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Safety and Health Practitioner (SHP) is first for independent health and safety news.
May 1, 2008

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<b>How did I get here?</b> James Draper

From a one-year health and safety placement from university, to a consultancy position with Norwich Union Risk Services

CV – James Draper

2005-present: Health and safety consultant/product development consultant, Norwich Union Risk Services

2001-2005: Health and safety principal consultant/environmental programmes manager, The Key Consultancy

1999-2001: Area operations safety officer (Midlands region), Shanks Waste Solutions

1998-1999: Environmental consultant/occupational hygienist, RPS Consultants (RPS Thomson)

1996-1997: One-year placement from university in the health and safety department of Conoco Ltd

What was the first job you got when you finished your education/training?

I was a trainee consultant for a large environmental consultancy. I carried out emissions-to-air testing, occupational hygiene surveys, and general safety assessments for a number of different companies.

Why did you become interested in health and safety?

As with many people, health and safety was not my initial career choice. I actually wanted to be a marine biologist. While working as a trainee occupational hygienist in the safety department of a large petrochemical refinery, I became fascinated by all the day-to-day safety issues that would arise. It was here that my interest and passion for health and safety began.

What qualifications do you hold?

I have a BSc (Hons) in Environmental Science, a Masters in Environmental Law, NEBOSH Diplomas in Occupational Health and Safety, and the NEBOSH Specialist Diploma in Environmental Management.

Which is more important – experience or qualifications, and why?

Both are important. I strongly believe that higher level qualifications are needed in this profession to ensure its credibility. In other disciplines, like law, medicine, and engineering, you do not get the job title without hard work. Safety should be no different.

How has IOSH, or IOSH membership, helped you in your career?

IOSH membership has helped me to gain respect and credibility among the people that I work with, and the companies that I work for. Membership is an essential requirement for all health and safety professionals.

How did you get your current job?

I noticed an advert in SHP magazine for Norwich Union Risk Services. The job was very similar to my previous position but offered an opportunity to work with small-to-medium enterprises, as well as large companies. I saw this as a career challenge.

Describe an average day in your job?

My job could involve training on a wide range of health, safety and environmental products offered by Norwich Union Risk Services. It could involve developing new and innovative products, dealing with quality control issues, and attending exhibitions and sales meetings.

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

The highest points in my career so far have been when I see people achieve the results that I know they can, on courses I have delivered or had a part in providing. The lowest points have been observing the consequences of poor health and safety management.

What is your ‘pet subject’ in health and safety?

My ‘pet topics’ are environmental law and environmental management. I find both subjects interesting and challenging. I know many safety practitioners who have environmental responsibilities, but don’t always understand them. With this in mind, I regularly ask safety professionals: “You’ve got the environmental badge, but can you wear it?”

What are your top two pieces of advice on getting a job in health and safety?

Always remain passionate and enthusiastic about health and safety and what it can achieve. Remember there will always be ‘those’ days when everything you say goes unheard, and everything you do goes unnoticed. These days should never put you off the profession.

What has been the biggest change in health and safety since you have been working in it?

The number of younger people attracted to, and working in, the profession. At 32, I feel fortunate and privileged to have gained the varied experiences that the health and safety profession has given me. While experience is undoubtedly important, I believe passion and enthusiasm for this topic can be achieved at any age, and the profession should welcome individuals of all age.

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