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Safety and Health Practitioner (SHP) is first for independent health and safety news.
June 22, 2008

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How did I get here? Paul Darby

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

I was a steel erector for a year, and then decided that construction was going to be my passion. However, as I wanted a career that included some travel and adventure, I joined the Army (Corps of Royal Engineers).

Why did you become interested in health and safety?

Having served for 25 years in the military, risk management was integral to everything I did. On completion of my NEBOSH National General Certificate, which was required for my role on the Diving Inspectorate, I realised I had found a subject that really excited me. It therefore became a natural progression.

What qualifications do you hold?

NEBOSH National Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety; HSE Part II Diver; Commercial Diving Supervisor/Instructor; Military/Civil Engineer.

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

Qualifications gain you acceptance from peer groups and organisations. However, learning from experience displays a sensible approach to risk management and gives credibility to your discussions at all levels. As a trainer, this is invaluable in helping students to understand the application of health and safety.

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

Membership is essential if you are going to demonstrate your continued professional development through an auditable trail. By joining specialist groups you can have an input into shaping future practices, and share ideas with your peer group.

How did you get your current job?

The post became available and, as a senior tutor, I decided the time was right to find a new outlet for my energy and enthusiasm, so I applied.

Describe an average day in your job?

I don’t really have average days. I rise at 6am, and if I am training then I am on my feet until around 5pm, engaging students in different ways so that they may also develop the same passion that I have for health and safety. At the end of the training session I am available to students, past and present, who may want some guidance.

In the evenings I catch up on my administrative role, which normally entails dealing with numerous e-mails from the office, and developing new learning and development solutions for clients. On occasion, should another member of the training team be in the area, we meet in the evening to catch up on news over a curry!

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

Difficult to answer because I always tend to be positive – that’s my nature. However, I suppose a series of buy-outs and change of management during these periods was my low point. Joining Pivotal Performance (after a buy-out), with a clearly focused management team who have fresh ideas, is one of my high points. When you are involved in learning and development, and consultancy in the health and safety arena, you can also get many highs from watching people develop and achieve goals, which they themselves thought were not possible.

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

I must confess, I do not really have a ‘pet subject’ as such, however, I am fascinated with ‘law’ and ‘construction’-based subjects.

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

My first piece of advice would be to believe that you can make a difference, and demonstrate your passion and competence for sensible risk management. Secondly, make sure you gain experience in the application of risk management in several organisations, so that you understand the balance required.

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

For me, it is the new trend of using ‘health and safety’ as an excuse for not doing/allowing an activity, whereas, by applying and interpreting the laws, regulations, and principles correctly, significant risks can be managed while trivial issues can be abandoned.

CV – Paul Darby

2007- present: Technical director, Pivotal Performance Ltd

2005-2007: Head of HS & E training, Pivotal Performance Ltd

2004-2005: Senior trainer, CHSS

1997-2005: AMT International

1973-1997: MoD, Army

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