Mohamed Mudather Suliman, health and safety consultant and trainer at Samara Training Institute, a leading OSH institute in Oman, explains why the future of the profession relies on knowledge-sharing with the next generation.
How and why did you get into the OSH profession?
At college in Sudan, I studied environmental engineering. It was a five-year course with OSH as part of the syllabus. Then I heard it was possible to focus on health and safety, so after I graduated, I began studying for globally recognised professional qualifications with IOSH.
You spent a couple of years as an engineer in the mining industry. What did you learn from this role?
I was a health and safety engineer at a mining company in Sudan for two and a half years. I learnt a lot about managing health and safety and the importance of convincing management to show their commitment to it.
I was the first health and safety person at the company – it was a completely new role so I built the OSH management system up from nothing.
How did you become an HSE trainer?
I wanted to focus on health and safety training in the mining company because building a good health and safety culture isn’t just about implementing policies and procedures and forcing the workforce to do certain things. If you want to enhance the organisation’s culture you must put the emphasis on building positive behaviours, and that means you have to spend a lot of time delivering training.
I created an internal training programme and, in the time I was there, managed to train 85% to 90% of the workforce. The programme focused on enhancing safety culture and encouraging worker involvement. It covered topics including working at height, confined spaces, chemical hazards (cyanide safety training), safe transportation, emergency response plans and induction sessions for new staff. The duration of most training sessions was one to two hours.
What do you enjoy about training others?
Helping people see health and safety not as something they do for the organisation but for themselves and their families.
How do you feel the OSH profession differs in Oman from, say, the UK?
I don’t think there are huge differences. I worked for a US-owned company that followed OSHA standards and the steps we took were 99% the same as in other places I’ve worked.
In Sudan, the educational background of some people I was training could make situations more difficult
What has been challenging in your career to date?
In Sudan, the educational background of some people I was training could make situations more difficult. Mining sites are usually in rural areas, where people are less educated. Organisations have a social responsibility to involve staff from the local communities, so ensuring a good understanding of health and safety goals among workers can be challenging.
And what has been the greatest achievement in your career?
In Sudan, we won an award for the best health and safety performance of 2018 – beating 50 other firms. It was given by the Sudanese mining regulator in recognition of the improvements made to the company’s health and safety culture and increased worker morale.
What value do you get from IOSH membership?
IOSH membership is an excellent thing because when I encounter a particular problem I can often find the support I need from other IOSH members. It’s also great to access all the resources IOSH provides: the magazine, the website and so on.
It’s my ambition to become a Chartered Member of IOSH. I’m only 30 and it’s my objective to progress to CMIOSH within 10 years.
How important to you is your role on the Future Leaders Steering Group?
It gives you a push to focus on your plans and achievements. It also provides a great opportunity to focus on mentoring – students, for example. Mentoring is valuable for individual development and the progression of the profession.
Mohamed’s dos and don’ts: Tips for training others in OSH
- Be clear about what you want the training to achieve
- Focus on your material: make sure it’s concise and targeted
- Ensure the training is relevant to your audience
- Don’t make training too long or people will lose focus
- Don’t forget to follow up on training: are people applying it day to day?
- Don’t put off training to another day: it is essential
What makes a good trainer?
‘You have to deliver training in the workplace in a different way from a university lecture. You have to engage the audience and understand them and their expectations and experiences. Be passionate and persuasive so that trainees understand that health and safety is about protecting their wellbeing.’
Where do you see your current role taking you?
I’m happy in my current role as I’m exposed to many different experiences.
I’ve worked on consultancy projects with oil and gas companies, and with the cement industry here in Oman.
What do you wish you’d known before joining the OSH profession?
Guidance is important. When you start your career it’s valuable to hear from experienced people: managers, supervisors and other OSH professionals.
What lies ahead for Future Leaders in OSH?
We need to find time to think about how we can benefit others who are entering the profession and make a commitment to mentoring others.
We should ensure we are doing more than just delivering organisational objectives, and look at how we can improve the culture and atmosphere around OSH.
When you’re not working, what do you do for fun?
I enjoy jogging, and talking to people face to face – rather than over a screen!
Image credit | Getty