Awards, Safety

Ongoing Advancements in Construction Safety and Diversity 

It is with great pride that Sarah Constructions congratulates QHSE Manager, Dena English, on winning Master Builders SA’s 2021 HiViZ Women in Construction Award, which recognises and celebrates the highest female achievers in the South Australian construction industry.

Promoting diversity and inclusion, the award reflects Master Builders SA’s mission to empower women to pursue new construction career pathways and support them in achieving their goals. Sarah Constructions is therefore delighted that one of our own outstanding employees is the recent recipient.

Celebrating Achievements in Quality, Work Health & Safety and Environmental Management (QHSE)

From choosing a career in Quality, Work Health & Safety and Environmental Management (QHSE) in 2015 to winning the 2021 Master Builders SA Award in 2021, Dena’s development has been rapid.

During that time, as Sarah Constructions grew from 74 employees to 232, Dena progressed from QHSE Coordinator to QHSE Advisor and then to QHSE Manager in 2017 taking on more responsibility and role complexity ensuring that Sarah’s high standards of quality, safety and environmental management were not compromised throughout this period of growth.

Dena rises to every challenge with her QHSE achievements including overhauling Sarah Constructions’ QHSE systems in 2018 to gain certification to new Quality, Safety and Environmental ISO standards; decreasing the company’s Lost Time Injury Frequency Rate from 12.85 to the current rate of 1.55; and designing and implementing an ISO 45001 compliant WHS Management System for Sarah Build.

Safeguarding Business Continuity During COVID-19

2020 brought new challenges in WHS management with COVID-19. Led by Dena and the QHSE team, Sarah Constructions implemented a COVID-19 Management Plan and associated processes to ensure the risks were adequately managed and business continuity was maintained.

This was implemented when Sarah had construction projects operating in Mount Gambier requiring coordination with a Victorian builder, while Victorian COVID-19 cases were at peak levels and a hard border closure was in place. The COVID-19 risk was managed diligently, with Dena and the QHSE team liaising with SAPOL and SA Health to ensure that workers travelling from Victoria were not introducing risk to the health and safety of workers on our sites.

CEO Adrian Esplin thanked staff for their flexibility and commitment throughout the pandemic. “Our ability to be agile to cover staff losses has been exemplary. A great example has been the recent OFSC audit at Concordia, where most of the site team was quarantined the day prior to the audit and QHSE Manager Dena was working remotely due to COVID; our back-up team stepped in to manage the audit and delivered a high level OFSC audit, a result that we’re proud of.”

He went on to highlight how critical WHS is, especially at this time. “The strain is being felt industry-wide. Resources are stretched and the demands on construction projects are not easing. This increases the risk of safety incidents. At Sarah, we recognise that it is vital that we maintain our focus on safety, and in particular high risk works.”

Championing Safety and Diversity in Construction

Not only does QHSE Manager Dena play an integral part in maintaining Sarah’s business continuity and the safety of Sarah staff, she is an “active and valued member” of the South Australian Construction Safety Alliance (SACSA), which champions and improves the safety of construction workers throughout SA.

Lex Hanegraaf, Chairperson of SACSA, explains that her contributions are valuable to the discipline of WHS on a state level. “Dena brings great value to the discussions as a well-respected and experienced construction QHSE professional,” he said.

Dena’s career success also places her in an excellent position to advocate for more women to choose a career in construction – a goal with which Sarah Constructions has long been aligned. Currently a mentor in the MBA Women Building Australia National Mentoring Program, Dena mentors a young woman building her career in the construction industry.

Along with Sarah Constructions Project Manager, Melisha Willington – former recipient of the NAWIC Outstanding Achievement in Construction award and HiViZ Outstanding Woman in Construction Award – these two women are paving the way for other South Australian women by demonstrating career opportunities available to them within the construction industry. Dena was recently a guest on Master Builders SA’s Building Perspective Podcast, in which she highlights the various opportunities and pathways available within the industry.

As an organisation, Sarah demonstrates with tangible action, our commitment to improving gender diversity in both our own business and in the wider construction industry. One example of this, is our Gold level sponsorship of NAWIC, the National Association of Women in Construction, a non-profit organisation that supports, promotes and celebrates women in construction and related industries.

To learn more about Sarah’s commitment to diversity or safety, contact us today.

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