John Fraser picks up Above & Beyond Award at 2018 OAAs

March 2018

The OAA Above and Beyond Award recognises the workplace contribution made by an employee which has brought significant improvements to their workplace, the wider industry or community. 

The 2018 award was presented to John Fraser of Sparrows at last week's ceremony for his passion in promoting safe operations and almost single handedly defining crane operating standards for the industry. 

Fresh from his award win, we spoke to John about how it feels to take home this prestigious industry award. 

Congratulations on winning the Above and Beyond Award! How does it feel?

"I feel humbled. For me the job isn’t about personal reward. I am much more interested in team success and recognition. Although it is an honour that my colleagues chose to nominate me, like most people nominated for such awards I have been fortunate enough to be supported by numerous people throughout my career. 

“When it comes to safety there is no compromise on protecting our clients, personnel and the environments in which they operate. I am honoured to have been presented with the Above and Beyond award and would like to thank Sparrows for their continued support in driving safe and efficient practices across all operations.”

You clearly have a very supportive team, but what personally drives you to improve safety within, and outwith, Sparrows? 

"Firstly, I love what I do and the opportunity it gives me to interact with people. I have always been a person who is supportive of others and even in my younger days, represented my colleagues as a shop steward and safety representative. I recognised very early in my working life that safety is only about people. There are other principles I have applied consistently over the years. One is that incidents don’t happen, they are ‘caused’  and if they are caused, they are preventable.

"In terms of motivation I think we all know that when things go wrong in this industry the consequences can be disastrous so there is tremendous responsibility and accountability on us all to behave in a manner that does not put ourselves or others in a situation where personal safety is jeopardized."  

Sparrows Group was also a nominee in the Outstanding Skills Development category this year. What do you think are the important skills that need to be developed to have a successful career in the industry? 

"Training and qualifications are relevant and important but from a practical perspective, I am a great believer in being qualified by experience - particularly in a safety role.

"Development is important, particularly if the industry wants to retain and nurture the talent of the future. There are many opportunities now for people to find a route that suits them, whether it’s through a university degree, in-house development scheme, apprenticeship or a combination of work and study.

"This industry can be quite fast-paced so being flexible, responsive to change and willing to get involved wherever you can is beneficial. Of course, this can be a high-risk environment and it is important that safety rules and procedures are adhered to. It is equally important those working in the industry are brave and have no fear of speaking out when they have safety concerns regarding the protocol of a task that is being undertaken."   

And how did/do you develop your own skills? 

"Unfortunately, I am nearing the end of my career and intend to retire when I reach 70 years next year so I am more focused on the development of the next generation.

"However, my years as a shop steward and employee safety representative in the Nigg Fabrication Yard provided a tremendous grounding for me to progress from a crane operator to services supervisor in 1983 and then in 1989 into a safety supervisor’s role.

"I studied hard in my early 40’s to gain some professional credibility through a diploma in Health and Safety Management but the truth is the operational experience I gained over the years has been the foundation that has taken me to HSEQ director level.

"I could list many people who helped me along the way but I want to take this opportunity to thank one in particular. Vernon Cruden took me into a health and safety role at Sparrows in 1989 and mentored me over the years. Vernon is retired now but I will be eternally grateful to him for the opportunity he gave me and the faith he showed in me. I have had a great career and it all started with Vernon seeing something in me that he felt was worth nurturing and developing. That’s me - born in Invergordon, but made in the oil and gas industry."

View the full list of winners and finalists here

Interested in finding out more about the Aberdeen section, or would you like to get involved, then don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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The Offshore Achievement Awards

The Offshore Achievement Awards (OAAs) recognise outstanding achievements in the energy industry.