2020 has given us the push we need to adopt new thinking – Lesley McLeod

It’s time to stop doing the same-old, same-old, says Lesley McLeod

Tuesday, 22nd September 2020, 7:30 am
Lesley McLeod, Chief Executive, Association for Project Safety.
Lesley McLeod, Chief Executive, Association for Project Safety.

You have no idea how long it took me to get round to writing this. I know they say, “procrastination is the thief of time” but , in my case, it’s more like a wet weekend in Wishaw – I should be weeding the garden; I could be tackling the ironing; but, in reality, I’m doing Sudoku puzzles and eating biscuits.

Like many people I kid myself I work better to a deadline. I don’t. However, I have been thinking about the consequences of putting things off until tomorrow. And what happens when tomorrow never comes.

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I suppose – after the year we’ve had – many of us are in the same boat. People have lost their jobs. I recently saw some terrifying statistics about the number of people – particularly in travel, hospitality and the arts – who have lost their jobs. Some people have suffered ill-health. Others have lost loved ones and face a sadder and lonelier world ahead.

No one is getting the future they expected at the start of the year.

But does that have to be a bad thing?

Change is inevitable. Maybe it could also be good: my mum packed a huge amount of life into the time she had after she was widowed; I was at my happiest when I chucked in a safe, easy job and took a chance on an uncertain future.

Risk is all around us, as members of the Association for Project Safety [APS] are well aware. Contrary to what you might think, APS members are not aiming to eradicate it. Instead, they try to help people across the construction sector mitigate the worst that can happen by identifying sensible steps to avoid disaster.

This proportionate approach saw deaths and accidents on site fall dramatically. But that decline has stalled as, largely, the easy things have been done. Perhaps – and I’m in no way handing employers a “get out of jail free” card to avoid their responsibilities – the time has come to look at the attitudes and barriers that stop us all doing what we know we need to do. Maybe – just maybe – some of this is down to us.

Nor is it confined to building sites. It’s everywhere. And Covid-19 has proved we are all interdependent. Consider this: in my brother’s lifetime our world has lost two-thirds of its animal habitats. We are depleting our natural resources faster than the planet can recover. For children of his children’s generation to have any future we must embrace change now.

There is no Planet B.

Perhaps 2020 has been just the push we needed to adopt new ways and stop merely sleep-walking on doing the same old, same old.

I was one of those people who’d do things after considering what was the worst that could happen. But, then, I had the fervent belief the worst would pass me by. Now I know it won’t. The full stop will come at the end of my sentence sometime. Just, hopefully, not soon.

But I can’t ramble forever. There are dreams to make reality; people to love; places to save for tomorrow. So, do it now. Because, as they say, if not now, when?

Lesley McLeod, Chief Executive, Association for Project Safety.


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