Mitch Parsons, a construction manager from Laing O'Rourke north, describes life at the sharp end of T5B
What's it like to work on T5?
I've been with Laing O'Rourke for nearly eight years now. I've worked on eight or nine sites but this is completely different. When I first decided I was going to make the jump to come here, it was a bit daunting. You drive up the road and see the size of the job. I worked on the Bluewater project, which was the biggest job in Europe at one stage. But when you come here you think crikey, look at this, you could get lost here. But you get a buzz. There is something about this place. I can't speak for every man, but for me, being part of the management, you are managing one of the biggest projects in Europe. It's massive. That's the buzz I get out of it. And I really do. It is big job. It takes a lot of effort. I honestly speak from the bottom of my heart: I enjoy coming here to work. Definitely.

Why did you come to T5?
I started on 22 May 2003 as a general foreman. I've been on site a year. I came here because of the opportunities it gave me to progress up the company, which I've wanted to do for my career. So that was the move for me. It's been well worth it, and I'm glad I done it – so glad I done it. It means travelling. I live in Rochester, north Kent. BAA put on a bus from Gravesend. So I drive to Gravesend, get on a bus and it brings me straight to compound B.

What's different about this site?
The safety aspect of this site … it's 100% better than any job I've ever worked on. The way they've put safety forward here is just a different division to any other job I've ever been on. The way the company's approaches safety has changed since T5. It is 100% better than where I've worked before; it's the way forward. Definitely. A lot of the older guys can't handle all the safety side of it – it's a massive culture change. We have a safety committee. A couple of guys out of each section go to a meeting room each week. They get to put their views across – what the guys are not happy about, what needs improving.

you look across the site and see all them tower cranes, see that roof going on. Look what they’ve done here. They’ve moved two rivers. They’re moving mountains. What they’ve done here is phenomenal

Do you have an input into how things are done on site?
We have this thing called ProjectFlow. We sit down once a day, in the afternoon, as a section, our little team, and we discuss what the programme is for the following day, what our targets are. And we talk about the targets we didn't hit that day. Why we didn't hit them, what the reasons were – such as bad weather, overambitious targets, things like that.

What are the facilities like?
The canteens are okay for the amount of men that use them. They've improved vastly from when I first come here. I bring me pack-up and a flask. But they must be doing something right cause they seem to be doing a lot of business. The cleanliness of the toilets is good; there is always a bloke in there cleaning them. And as for the personal protective equipment, they supply everything from safety glasses to boots to socks, wet gear, everything. Tools, too.