Head Of Training, SHP Online

March 1, 2016

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Top tips for a career in health and safety

We asked some of the top players in OSH, what their tips would be for someone embarking on a career in health and safety.


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We asked some of the top players in OSH, what their tips would be for someone embarking on a career in health and safety.


Liz Skelton (1)Elizabeth Skelton, Group Head of Health and Safety, Dixons Carphone

  1. I regularly calibrate my approach by asking myself: “Why would my organisation or colleagues want to or not want to engage in a conversation about health and safety at this moment in time?”.  By reading a variety of journals and reports outside of the health and safety discipline about the business environment I can understand what competing challenges my colleagues may be facing and then I can establish where H&S is on their priority list so I know how to approach it with them.
  2. I am never afraid to challenge any information I get and ask difficult questions.  I keep asking “why?” until I get a satisfactory answer.  I always think about the challenges I will get about the information I provide to people before I provide it so I am prepared to answer any questions precisely.
  3. I always assume the best of people – in my experience it’s not because someone doesn’t want to do health and safety that they don’t do it – it is often that they don’t know their behaviour is unsafe, they don’t know what to do, or are not sure how to do it safely. I always aim to offer them help and support to do the right thing first.


Dominic-CooperDr Dominic Cooper, CEO at B-Safe Management Solutions

  1. Choose a niche in Health and Safety you like, and that you are (or want to be) good at, and are passionate about making a difference.
  2. Constantly keep abreast of developments in your area of expertise, and where possible make useful contributions that others can share and use (e.g. write articles for fellow professionals).
  3. Keep track of the differences you make (or have made) within H&S in the workplace, and within the profession, so you can point to your successes, and learn from failures (i.e. seek out and record the evidence).Doing all of these things will lead to many employment opportunities and advancement.

 Lawrence Waterman Head of Health and Safety for ODA and LLDC

  1. Like every other job, the technical stuff matters but people matter most. This applies to how you do the day-job, how you speak to and treat others. The key to success lies in what other people think of you – the higher you are in their estimation the more you can influence their way of working from the shop floor to the Board Room. Develop those people skills.
  2. Be helpful, surprise your colleagues with how much H&S is focused on assisting them achieve what they want, but safely and healthily. This creates allies and supporters, and anyway it is what H&S should be. From the start of my career I was convinced that focusing on rules and compliance was wrong, it was always about building relationships with people exposed to risk or managing risk, and helping them.
  3. Develop your communication skills – practice, deliberately observe good communicators trying to work out how they do it and then create your own approach.

dawn hemmingsDawn Hemmings MSc CMIOSH, Head of Occupational Health and Safety at Bentley Motors Ltd

  1. Don’t be black and white when it comes to health and safety, nine times out of ten you need to be able to compromise, but compromise safely. Everyone is then happy.
  2. When going for interviews make sure you prepare with some good examples, e.g. dealing with conflict, overcoming problems etc., all too often interviewees are not prepared.
  3. Be prepared to think on the feet, most of the time you will need to be able to make decision on the go.

Do you have some top tips to offer the OSH professionals of the future? Email [email protected], and share your wisdom!

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Farid Mohadi
Farid Mohadi
4 years ago

Interesting posts .Valid points and helpful advice.
Thank you.

What Skills Should The Health And Safety Experts Have
4 years ago

[…] Elizabeth Skelton said in a recent article: […]