August 2018 marks my 20th anniversary working full time in our profession, and it was a chance to reflect on my journey and the positive influence others have had on my career.
As a safety adviser working for an engineering company, I was fortunate to work in the chemical, food and drink and pharmaceutical industries dealing with manufacturing, engineering and construction.
My company had been using a part-time consultant but needed a full-time adviser. Our consultant introduced me to Jim Lee FIOSH, head of safety for Associated British Ports (ABP) for Grimsby and Immingham. We had no commercial connection to ABP but Jim generously offered his assistance as I started my journey. My first lesson was that everybody works together and shares information for the benefit of all.
The South Humberside Health and Safety Group needed a new chair and vice-chair and Jim asked me to support him. We spent the year working together before I took over as chair. I was involved with the group for 19 years, becoming its president for a period. After meeting Jim, I set myself the challenge of one day becoming a fellow of IOSH.
I joined the IOSH Humber Committee and became programme organiser, secretary, vice-chair and then chair. Being involved in a branch committee gives you the chance to develop alongside those in your region. At meetings, I benefited most from hearing the speakers but the networking also provided a great opportunity to engage with other professionals. I always say to new members that their future employer may be in the room so first impressions are important.
I always say to new members that their future employer may be in the room
I approached Rob Wood CFIOSH for assistance with the route to IOSH fellowship and he mentored me through the process. When he asked whether I had considered what else I might do within IOSH, I said I wanted to be president one day and I realised that goal within ten years. Rob also introduced me to the University of Hull and I have been lecturing on its BSc degree programme on health and safety management since.
I joined IOSH’s Consultancy Group as chair in 2011 because I was keen to tackle the negative image of safety consultants. Like all IOSH groups, we have delivered presentations, held webinars and provided information for members. I am also involved with the Food and Drink Group and have helped with its annual conference.
There are many contributing factors that have shaped my career as a safety and health professional. It is one thing to have the theoretical knowledge to understand complex issues but you need to be able communicate with and influence people. I learned early on that, rather than just quoting the law when things are not being done right, explaining how you can comply is more powerful and useful.
I have used the hashtag #GetInvolved on most of my social media posts over the past year. I strongly believe that getting involved was instrumental in my development as a person, a manager and a leader, and I’d encourage everyone to do the same. For some, that may entail attending branch meetings or involvement with a branch or group committee. For others it may be putting yourself forward for a standing committee, council, or becoming a No Time to Lose ambassador or peer review interviewer. IOSH provides excellent opportunities for its members to give back but also for members to continue to develop.
As I reach the end of my presidential year, my challenge to you is simple: #GetInvolved