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Safety and Health Practitioner (SHP) is first for independent health and safety news.
January 12, 2017

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How did I get here? Shannon Jolly


As part of SHP’s focus on careers, Shannon Jolly tells us about being young in the H&S profession and how she felt being granted Tech IOSH at just 19-years-old.

How did you get into health and safety?

I started at Compass three and a half years ago as an administration apprentice.  When I’d completed my administration qualifications I realised being in an office all day wasn’t for me, I preferred going out to meet clients.  I’d already learnt the basics of health and safety just from working under our health and safety advisors, so doing my NEBOSH general certificate seemed like the obvious next step.  From there I completed my level 3 NVQ in Occupational Health & Safety, to back up my knowledge, SMSTS, advanced scaffold inspection, I’m a face fit tester and I now travel up and down the country to advise clients, visit sites and carry out noise surveys.

I’m not your average health and safety inspector, so people don’t tend to “get their backs up” around me!

What’s it like being a young person working in this profession?

It is a little daunting being visibly younger than most in this profession, I do sometimes worry that some people, particularly those who are older will doubt my capabilities.  However to date I haven’t had bad feedback, our clients trust our knowledge – we are good at what we do.  On the other hand I think being younger can work to my advantage – I can relate to younger personnel on site. I’m not your average health and safety inspector, so people don’t “get their backs up” around me so to speak.

What interests you most about health and safety?

I’m fortunate to work with a vast array of companies as a consultant, from construction to quarries, care homes to veterinary surgeries.  No two days are ever the same.  There is a lot to learn, especially industry specific legislation like CDM and the quarry regulations so I’ll never be bored.  I like getting to know our clients, building a relationship with them and providing them with a service that really meets their needs and takes away the fear factor that health and safety sometimes imposes.

No two days are ever the same.

How do you ensure you are continually building on your health and safety knowledge?

CPD – continual professional development is very important to me.  I don’t want my knowledge to turn stale.  I attend IOSH meetings, receive HSE bulletins on regulation updates as well as do my own research on a chosen topic.  When I get involved with a new client I search for industry standards they should be working to.  I also shadow senior advisors to carry out inspections and get involved with their clients where I can.

Who has had the biggest impact on your career, and how?

The MD of Compass Compliance Solutions Debbie Williams is fantastic – as soon as I asked to do my NEBOSH she was all for it, she has invested so much time and effort into developing me into an advisor and giving me opportunities to excel.  Debbie really values personal development. As a chartered health and safety professional, she is a perfect example of the professional person I aspire to be.

What have been the highest and lowest points in your career?

The highest point of my career is definitely being granted Tech IOSH at 19-years-old.  Knowing that the Institute of Occupational Health and Safety recognises my qualifications and experience and commitment in this field is a great feeling.  As for the lowest point, I forehead planted a scaffolding ledger in full view of everyone on site and nearly knocked myself out last week – luckily I was wearing my hard hat!

What would be your top tips for someone about to start out in health and safety?

A firm base of knowledge and experience is key – gain experience by any way you can.  If that’s assisting in the completion of your current company’s risk assessments and inspections or taking a role as an H&S administrator.  Also, don’t be afraid to acknowledge your own limitations, you can’t know everything about every industry.

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