‘I left school with little ambition – and now I help shape health and safety in the NHS’
Jay Jordan, a member of the IOSH Bristol Young Member Group, discusses how working in safety and health has helped take his career forward.
As a safety and health professional working as a Facilities Manager for North Bristol NHS Trust, Jay Jordan helps influence his directorate’s approach to protect staff and patients in a 24-hour workplace where potential risks are many.
In his day-to-day, Jay needs to consider the risks and hazards that could present themselves to vulnerable people and take effective actions to mitigate them. His passion for this work is seen in his commitment to improving the way his department operates through the effective implementation of health and safety control processes, as well as through his role as a member of the IOSH Bristol Young Member Group.
Jay’s direction in life was not always so clear, however. He left school in 1996 with no professional qualifications and little ambition or sense of what to do next.
“I lacked a clear direction and didn’t know what opportunities were available to me,” Jay says. “I couldn’t have predicted at the time that I would be working in safety and health today.”
To get by, Jay took up work with an electrical retailer doing general duties such as warehousing. He eventually changed direction and started working as a Security Officer at a regional shopping centre, where he saw for the first time how dangerous a working environment can be when thousands of people step through its doors every day.
After several years of sharpening his security senses, a manager Jay worked with for some time announced his retirement and recommended Jay for senior management – a challenge he rose to eagerly.
While he held no professional qualifications when he started out in management, other members of Jay’s team were venturing into professional studies via distance learning and they encouraged him to follow suit.
Two colleagues, both of whom remain Jay’s good friends today, had responsibilities for health and safety within their roles, and they provided invaluable inspiration and the nudge he needed to develop professionally and expand his knowledge of safety and health.
“Security, health and safety are aligned disciplines and working within a shopping centre environment was a fantastic learning experience,” Jay says. “These sorts of workplaces really do experience every kind of incident, and as a result safety culture within shopping centres is very strong indeed.”
Later joining the NHS as a Facilities Manager, Jay’s new role posed fresh challenges to overcome and new opportunities to improve on and promote his directorate’s health and safety culture.
“Hospitals are complex care environments and staff must be attentive to an array of hazards that can present themselves,” explains Jay. “My employer values my input and my contribution to health and safety improvement. The hospital environment is a fast-changing one and with each change comes the potential for new risks.”
With this desire to professionally develop and expand his knowledge, Jay attended a legal update session at the IOSH Bristol and West Branch. Branch meetings are free to attend and provide great networking opportunities for delegates. He found the experience so informative that he became an IOSH member shortly after.
Jay was approached by another young IOSH member and asked if he wanted to get involved in promoting IOSH through the creation of a Young Member Group (YMG), which he thought was an excellent idea and much-needed.
As other IOSH members had observed, Jay was aware of a lack of young members attending local meetings. Having worked with young health and safety professionals throughout his career, including his close friends, he wondered why this might be and set himself the mission of encouraging more young people to get involved in the sector.
Occupational safety and health
He hopes more young people will see the benefit of occupational safety and health and will gravitate towards the industry.
“My advice for young people starting their careers, or considering what to do, is to seriously consider health and safety as a profession,” he says. “The skills you will learn cross into all other areas of employment. Even if you do not work in a dedicated health and safety role, the skills you will have will gained will be highly sought after by employers.”
Jay views his membership of IOSH as a great opportunity to meet new people, share in best practice and receive support on health and safety matters when needed.
“Perspective is a wonderful thing, and through attending meetings with other IOSH members I have had the opportunity to listen to presentations on a whole raft of issues,” he says. “On occasion you just get that little nugget of information that you can use in the moment or bank the knowledge for use later.
“Of most benefit to me is the affiliation with the organisation and knowing that I can reach out to others in the network should I have a query. For me, the networking potential is the most beneficial aspect of being an IOSH member.”
And Jay isn’t slowing down. As well as being a member of the IOSH Bristol Young Member Group, he is also keen to further his professional development, with the hope of studying for another diploma, or a Master’s degree, later in the year. He is currently working towards becoming a Graduate Member of IOSH and one day hopes to achieve Chartered status.
“It is immensely satisfying to bring attention to an issue that you know can cause harm and see mitigation put in place to reduce the risk,” he says.
“As a health and safety professional you really will make a difference to people’s lives in the workplace.”
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