Public Sector Magazine
In cricket parlance, Ned O’Dwyer’s team is 20 not out and, crucially, looking more and more like a marquee crew the longer it remains at the crease. Ned O’Dwyer, founder and director of O’Dwyer Safety Services Limited talks to Public Sector Magazine.
Trust told, O’Dwyer Safety Services Limited has been a stand-out in its field ever since it first saw the light of day in September 2001 when the redoubtable O’Dwyer decided to go solo in business after three years of being the archetypal team player as an employee of a number of blue chip companies. A health and safety training plus consultancy company par excellence, the O’Dwyer-led OSS Ltd has grown steadily over the years from the one-man band that it was - however briefly - two decades ago. Over the years, the Ballysimon, Limerick-based outfit has made a huge name for itself in the business of assisting companies in the effective management and implementation of their health and safety systems and the provision of quality, relevant competent training courses, tailored to meet the needs of individual employees and individual companies.
Like the talisman of any successful team, OSS Limited’s reputation precedes itself, its remarkable C.V detailing an impressive hat-trick: namely a proven record of achievement; the respect of its rivals; and the trust of its patrons. “The company has a lot going for itself but, all things considered, I feel that it’s our reputation that sets us apart,” says O’Dwyer, OSS Limited’s founder and Managing Director.
“Our reputation is something that I’m very proud of and is something that, in the area of health and safety, is particularly important. I know our employees and our clients are very conscious of that too. To my mind, the reputation of our organisation is based on our longevity, the people who work for the company, the services we offer, the down-to-earth practical approach that we take with every individual or company who calls our phones.”
Needless to say, the phones at OSS Ltd have been hopping for years and continue to hum to the sound of new and repeat business. Fact is, few among its peers can match OSS’s ability to provide the kind of comprehensive health and safety management service that is needed to ensure legislative compliance and a safer workplace.
Over the last couple of decades, OSS Limited has grown and evolved to meet the demand of many different industries. The experience accrued by the company’s trainers and consultants (garnered from a wide range of fields including the construction, food, education, chemical, agricultural and manufacturing industries) and their personable approach has provided an invaluable crutch to newbies and seasoned firms alike over the years.
OSS Ltd has many strings to its bow and its consultancy services provide for all types of health and safety requirements such as comprehensive health and safety statements, risk assessments, health and safety reviews & health and safety workplace inspections. The accomplished Limerick firm is a QQI / FETAC registered training provider and its trainers provide a wide range of health and safety courses that the modern workplace requires for it to prosper and comply with relevant health and safety laws.
O’Dwyer is rightfully proud of his creation. His pitch to his employees and to his clients has been perfect over the years and the company’s workload has increased, year on year. But what spawned his brave decision to actually go it alone as a health and safety advisor in the uncertain world of commerce back in 2001.
“I decided to leave the Safety & Health boards of the private companies I was working with at the time simply because there was a spike in demand for training and a lot of smaller companies were seeking advice on training and consultancy in the field,” he says. “At that time there was a big drive to bring about a culture change in relation to health and safety issues in Ireland, particularly in the workplace and I wanted to set up a business which would help companies and contractors meet all the new obligations and responsibilities that they were beginning to face in relation to health and safety at the beginning of the ‘noughties.
“With the merger of SOLAS and The Social Partners in Dublin and the introduction of a whole raft of training courses across the construction sector, I saw an opportunity and, in all honesty, going out on my own was an easy decision because there was so much demand for what I could offer.” In double quick time, O’Dwyer registered with SOLAS and armed with his accreditation as a Safe Pass tutor - was soon fielding a constant stream of phone calls from companies and individuals looking for Safe Pass training, looking for machinery training, looking for support etc. Initially, the province of Munster was his domain (at first working from home and then using purpose-built office space) but expansion was soon the name of the game for his burgeoning business as, with the introduction of new health and safety legislation, more and more people were obliged to attend a health and safety courses.
If the new health and safety laws were like manna from Heaven for O’Dwyer, the services provided by his rookie company were Heaven-sent in the eyes of responsible and ambitious companies. Thankfully, the spike in demand for OSS Limited’s services has continued, unabated, since its inception and it has continued to expand its areas of expertise and increase market share. The mushrooming OSS Ltd has since grown to become an uber-efficient, customer-orientated company divided into three main sections; a consultancy section; a training section; and a section concerned with the supply health and safety specialists such as advisors, health and safety managers.
The company’s evolution has seen it consolidate a prominent position in the market place and its location and an impressive and diverse range of discerning clients in both Ireland and overseas. In that regard, the establishment of a brand new training center in 2014 in Limerick was a significant leg-up and milestone.
“We started off purely engaged with players in the construction industry for the first five or six years but then with the big crash in 2008 and the major downturn in construction, we knew we had to look at other industries and investigate other opportunities,” O’Dwyer recalls.
“Fortunately, health and safety is something that we have been able to expand across all industries such as the educational sector, manufacturing, hospitality and retail; basically areas which weren’t hit as much by the downturn in the economy.”
With an eye to exploring the huge scope that applies to health and safety issues within the underdeveloped domestic agricultural industry, O’Dwyer and Co. are looking ahead with confidence. On foreign shores, the vista is almost equally appealing and OSS Limited is continuously embellishing its relationships with the companies on the global stage. The company works closely with the likes of Diageo Global Engineering, Project Management Group and, at any given time, would have over 35 health and safety professionals working with large construction companies in Ireland and overseas.”
A progressive and dynamic firm, OSS Ltd., has, over the past four years, graduated to become for many big players the go-to guy(s) in the specialized Project Supervisor Design Process (PSDP) and Project Supervisor Construction Stage (PSCS) areas of construction. And with the finalizing of a deal to acquire PSDP specialist firm Aegis just about over the line, O’Dwyer Safety Services are looking set to cement their pre-eminent place in that particular field. Generous in his praise for the way those at the coalface of the construction industry in particular has coped with the ravages of Covid-19, O’Dwyer is rightly proud of how his own company has adapted to Covid-19 and how it has looked at essential projects, essential roles, and how it has kept going and continued to support its ever-expanding customer base in such trying times.
“We have supplied a lot of COVID compliance officers to a lot of companies across the country,” O’Dwyer says. “The compliance officers are on most sites and we have trained those people and supplied them to a lot of companies across the country in the last 18 months as well.”
O’Dwyer has little hesitation in declaring that “OSS Limited can provide all the health and safety training, all the consultancy and all the resources that any company, large or small, engaged in whatever field, may require”.
“We can provide the full gamut (of services) on site or at our premises in Limerick or prospective customers can book in with us via our website or attend one of our public courses or, alternatively, arrange a private course or work online using Zoom or engage in a Teams meeting.”
With OSS Limited, its never been easier to save lives.