To celebrate ‘World Safety and Health at Work’ day, we spoke to Susannah Brasted, Head of Health and Safety at leading East Anglian Housebuilder, Hopkins Homes.
Susannah has been with Hopkins Homes since December 2022, having previously worked for a national housing developer for several years. Her experience and skills make her the perfect fit for the company’s first in-house Head of Health & Safety.
Susannah, tell us a bit about your role…
Hopkins Homes previously used an external provider for their Health & Safety at work, but with a renewed focus last year, they decided to bring the overall control of this function into the central team – hence my appointment.
Compliance is a huge part of my role, so I focus a lot of my efforts on working with industry bodies to ensure that we are adhering to legislation. Managing subcontractors is another part of the job, so I meet with our subcontractors (and their health and safety representatives) to ensure that anyone working on our sites understands our high standards.
What appealed to you about this role and working for Hopkins Homes?
I was excited by the prospect of a role that I could really make my own and this role gives me the autonomy to shape the future team and how we do things. I’ve always admired Hopkins Homes, as a renowned operator in the housebuilding sector, so I jumped at the opportunity when this role came about.
What have you been focussing on in your first few months?
My priority has been visiting our sites as this is generally where the biggest potential risks are. I’ve really enjoyed getting out and meeting the site teams, who have been very welcoming. Being ‘on the ground’ has enabled me to identify areas where we can drive safety improvements and standardisation across the business, whether it’s about equipment, methods or process. The fewer variables we have, the less risk we’re exposed to.
What were your early impressions of Hopkins Homes?
Since joining the company, everyone has been really supportive, from Lee Barnard (Group Managing Director) all the way through. There is an underlying culture of kindness here and I can honestly say that all employees embrace the concept of Health and Safety. The more I work with the various departments, the more this is evident to me.
As well as the culture, the company undeniably builds superior homes. Having worked with some of our competitors, I’ve noticed some definite differences! I have loved going on-site and seeing the craftsmanship, detail and skill that goes into every build.
Tell us more about what you’re working on…
My role is to look at industry best-practice and challenge the way we do things. I’m constantly exploring what we could be improving, so I’m working on updating our build procedures, rewriting induction documents, and updating our systems to reflect ‘The Hopkins way’. It’s important that every employee and supplier understands the standard that we expect. This means establishing good relationships with employees and our subcontractors to drive the culture and quality.
It goes beyond our site teams. I’m working with our central functions, as well as our sales and customer care teams to ensure that we keep our staff, customers, visitors, and systems safe.
What changes would you like to make in the future?
I’d like us to become more digitally enabled moving forwards. For example, digital accident and incident reporting, inspection report formats and permit systems. Sites should be using standardised products and methods – as this not only makes life easier, but safer too. ESG is also very important to Hopkins Homes, and I will be working with our ESG Manager to implement changes at site level, which will drive sustainability and reduce our Carbon Footprint.
What are you most proud of?
Upon starting at Hopkins Homes, I established a Health and Safety committee, to ensure that we have a good open dialogue across the business. When I initially asked for volunteers, I was blown away by the positive response! It was really encouraging, and we’ve had a great turnout at our meetings with lots of positive input from attendees, who are embracing new ideas to drive improvement across the business.
It’s a truly great place to work and I’m excited for the future.