Do Something Great: explore a career in health and safety

woman-in-the-construction-industryA career in health and safety can be hugely rewarding. After all, there aren’t many jobs that have the potential to save lives!

As COVID-19 causes disruption to day-to-day life across the world, for those in lockdown there are new opportunities to be had. The extra time you might find yourself with could be used to learn a new skill, to relax, to take up a new hobby, to spend time with loved ones (safely of course!) or even to explore a new career.

Shortly before COVID-19 gripped the world, NEBOSH – one of the leading providers of health, safety and environmental qualifications – published Do Something Great: Your Health and Safety Career. This free guide features expertise from health and safety professionals across the globe, giving readers an insight into how they made it in the sector.

In this special feature for We Are The City, some of the guide’s contributors share their hints and tips…

Is health and safety a career for me?

Health and safety is a great career choice for people seeking variety, job satisfaction and progression; there are opportunities in every industry and every country around the world.

Simon Jones got into health and safety after leaving the police force. He is now Head of Health and Safety at Link Contracting and says: “If you want variety in terms of where you work and who you work with, meeting people, giving advice and, most importantly, making a difference, then health and safety could be a great choice for you.”

The desire to make a difference and protect people is raised by many of the guide’s contributors. Shermin Shali, a HSEQ Manager, adds: “You help your colleagues to go back home safely every day. It’s challenging but interesting if you have a passion to save others.”

This desire to protect people should be the primary driver for the organisations you work for too. They will be fundamental to your development as a health and safety professional.

Louise Taggart is NEBOSH Ambassador and workplace safety speaker. Louise puts it very powerfully when she says: “At the heart of your organisation’s ‘why’ should not lie ‘we want to avoid ending up in court’ or because we’ll have the authorities crawling all over us’. It should always be its desire to care for its people.”

Ian Stacey, Head of Health and Safety at Action for Children, sums it up with a list of things a would-be health and safety professional needs to answer ‘yes’ to:

  • Do you have good communication skills?
  • Are you good at problem solving?
  • Do you like to help and enable people?
  • Do you have an eye for detail?
  • Are you organised?
  • Do you have the ability to adapt to different situations?
  • Do you want to work in a profession where your career will constantly evolve and progress with experience?
  • Do you want to make a difference?

Training and qualifications

The guide’s contributors have a huge range of qualifications and there are a lots of training routes that would-be health and safety professionals could take – from introductory courses, sector specific qualifications, degree-level Diplomas and beyond. What’s more, whether you prefer to learn face-to-face in the classroom, part-time or online, there is something to suit you.

Su Corrin, Senior Health, Safety and Risk Manager for The Football Association, says: “Qualifications need to credible and recognised, especially if they are forming part of your career path. There are many different qualifications that match different learning styles…Match the relevance of the qualification to your own objectives and work out how you will benefit from a qualification. Look at time and financial commitments as these are also important factors. If possible, speak to others who have completed the qualification to get their feedback.”

Gary Fallaize is the Managing Director of RRC International, one of over 600 NEBOSH-accredited Learning Partners. Gary adds: “NEBOSH’s certificate qualifications are a popular entry point for those starting on their career development. Once you have achieved this and spent some time applying the knowledge you have gained, you will be ready to look at progressing to the next step which would be a diploma-level qualification.”

For those who are trying to break into the sector, finding opportunities to a apply that new knowledge will be key – internships, volunteering and supporting your employer’s safety team can all add to your experience. Rachel Butler, Group HSS&Q for housing developer DeTrafford, says: “I was fortunate enough to be able to back up my training with onsite construction experience. I would urge anybody to do the same…There are many industry advocates out there who will happily provide construction sites for learning (including me).”

This is just a flavour of the advice that can be found in NEBOSH’s new guide, Do Something Great: Your Health and Safety Career. Download your free copy to access a huge range of advice – from CVs, interviews and mentors to training, gaining experience and choosing the right employer – and kick-start your health and safety career:

If you are a job seeker or someone looking to boost their career, then WeAreTheCity has thousands of free career-related articles. From interview tips, CV advice to training and working from home, you can find all our career advice articles here.

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