Christopher Barnard OH&S Director China

Christopher Barnard is the Director of the Occupational Health & Safety department at Veolia in China.
Published in the dossier of May 2020

From Malaysia through the Philippines to Taiwan, Christopher Barnard has travelled all across Asia for almost twenty-five years since joining Veolia in 1996. His explorer’s outlook has been forged as the Group established itself in the region:

“I set off alone for adventure in new cities and places to promote Veolia as best possible. It was an incredible and extremely instructive experience,” he states.

On the strength of this multi-sector experience and his in-depth knowledge of Asia, Christopher recently steered the implementation of the ICIAct tool, which operates via the instant messaging app WeChat1 (used daily by millions of Chinese for multiple services, such as payment, transport, etc.) and allows staff to report a dangerous situation in their working environment in the blink of an eye. On its launch, the application was instantly adopted by its users.

“This system clearly sets itself apart from the previous reporting culture, which had a rather negative image: previously, staff wanting to report a danger had to take the time to describe it in detail in a shared notebook, where everyone could see others’ names and comments. It was a tedious system and was also viewed with suspicion by employees, who feared looking bad to their colleagues.
Nowadays, employees widely report hazards thanks to a very simple system. All you need to do is take a photo with your smartphone, send it via the app, and describe the problem in a few words. Whether in the street, at home or when travelling, staff are happy to interact on this type of platform as it is just like social media,” explains Christopher Barnard.

Thanks to its impressive results, the initiative is one of the projects chosen for the Impact Awards in the Social Performance category. Just one year after the launch of this service in July 2018, hazardous situation reports had risen by 90% over the first half of 2019. In the same period, working days lost to occupational injuries dropped by 44%. Its recipe for success: an excellent match between the tool and the ultra-connected local culture. Never short on resourcefulness, Christopher is as motivated as ever to meet the challenges of the future:

“Efficiency and the desire to get things done are in my DNA. With each passing day, I’m a little more excited about taking part in Veolia’s ongoing digital transformation.”

1. The ICIAct WeChat app was designed collectively by Veolia in China’s Health & Safety department, the IS&T department, and the ICIAct system’s software developer.

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