Mace / United Utilities

Safety Strategy – United Utilities

Concentris staff led and delivered a strategic review of safety within the Engineering and Capital Delivery team at United Utilities.


As a specialist sub-consultant, Concentris staff benchmarked United Utilities’ Engineering and Capital Delivery (E&CD) safety strategy, providing recommendations for change, to develop true best practice. UU’s own safety vision was well understood and believed amongst staff. However, it needed to be translated into workable behaviours at all levels to be effectively implemented.

A team was commissioned to look at the way the safety strategy was implemented within the E&CD department. This team was responsible for investing £700m per annum in infrastructure projects related to the water cycle.


  • Benchmark existing Safety Strategy against best practice
  • Investigate three main areas – Standards, Engagement, Leadership
  • Carry out Gap Analysis
  • Provide summary report with recommendations for change

Over two phases, the team investigated three aspects of safety strategy: 

  • Standards
  • Engagement
  • Leadership

Phase I

This led to a gap analysis between existing practice within E&CD, and what they agreed could be described as best practice. A series of recommendations was made, which E&CD incorporated into its overall safety strategy, and which are being implemented. A strong emphasis was made on behaviours throughout the delivery teams, and where these behaviours received the correct degree of attention to the basics of behavioural management, namely:


  • Setting of correct expectations
  • Providing the correct measurement of behaviours
  • Delivering consistent feedback for the behaviours
  • Managing positive and negative consequences correctly

Phase II

The scope of the exercise involved extensive interviews with senior managers within the E&CD team, a rigorous assessment of documented standards, and a series of visits to operational sites to gain feedback from those involved in project delivery.

The output report from the study was fed back to the senior team within the capital delivery function, as well as a wide selection of stakeholders involved in capital delivery.

The scope of the exercise covered all aspects of the project life-cycle from concept to operation, and took in feedback from teams involved in engineering, procurement, planning, delivery, commissioning and operations.

The main findings from both studies indicated that whilst the safety vision was strong, there was a lack of a clear strategy to implement the vision effectively. In turn, most staff were unable to understand the role that they had to play in delivering safety effectively, and received little by way of effective consequence management to drive the right behaviours. The key outputs from the exercise were:

  • A tailored set of recommendations, to connect the safety vision to practical leadership steps
  • Guidelines on how to make safety leadership behaviours more visible
  • Advice on more effective measurement and feedback of leadership behaviours

The company adopted these outputs and implemented them for the following AMP (Capital Delivery) programme, to set the correct tone for safety leadership and practice throughout the programme. In addition, the approach was recognised as the leading practice within UU as a whole.

“The team were a pleasure to work with, and really helped us to see the areas where we could improve on the delivery of our safety strategy.

They provided practical and powerful advice, which aligned completely with our own safety vision”

Project Sponsor

United Utilities


Strategy designed and implemented across business.

Vision translated to workable behaviours at all team levels.

High level engagement on safety with leadership team, across business.


Doug Hamilton

Doug Hamilton

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