Designing for an inclusive construction workforce – Leena Begum, Health, Safety and Wellbeing Coordinator for the Thames Tideway Tunnel

Leena Begum - Thames Tideway Tunnel

Leena Begum works as a Health, Safety and Wellbeing Coordinator for the Thames Tideway Tunnel, a 25km sewer tunnel, running from Acton in west London to Newham in east London, that will help tackle sewage overflows into the River Thames.

Leena-Begum - Thames Tideway

Leena Begum

 Leena has helped design two innovative items of protective clothing (PPE) for women on construction sites who observe the hijab and the burka. As a Muslim woman working in construction, Leena has experienced how difficult it can be to adhere to her religious values whilst also complying with health and safety requirements on a construction site and wanted to address this.

Encouraging more Muslim women to come into the construction industry

As a Muslim woman working in construction, I have experienced how difficult it can be to adhere to my religious values whilst also complying with health and safety requirements on a construction site. Raising the awareness of the hijab will encourage more Muslim women to come into the construction industry.

I had a lot of support and encouragement from colleagues and it’s been so great to see the designs come to life. I hope this helps promote the image of construction as an inclusive, diverse industry to work in.

BMB [a joint venture between Balfour Beatty, BAM Nuttall and Morgan Sindall] has been really supportive of the idea and I have received positive feedback from all across the Tideway project.

Promoting a positive, inclusive image

This is really exciting and I hope my idea promotes a positive, inclusive image, not just for BMB and the Tideway project, but for the construction industry as a whole.

These issues are not only work-related; they have encouraged me to tackle issues I have faced outside of work since I left school. Their support and motivation has given me the ability to participate in sports again, something I haven’t been able to do since leaving school due to the lack of modest sportswear on the market and for this I am thankful.

 

Background

  • In 2017 Tideway rolled out specially-designed PPE [personal protective equipment] for women, including maternity-wear, and this latest development during National Inclusion Week marks a considerable step forward in PPE inclusivity.
  • The Thames Tideway Tunnel is a 25km sewer tunnel, running from Acton in west London to Newham in east London, that will help tackle sewage overflows into the River Thames.
  • Construction has been divided into three sections – East, West and Central – with each section being built by a different joint-venture. The west section is being constructed by a joint venture of BAM Nuttall, Morgan Sindall and Balfour Beatty (BMB).

 

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