How to get started in health and safety
In the first of SHP’s series of articles on entering and training within the health and safety sector, Southalls graduate safety consultants Beth Bishop and Paul Parker share their experiences since graduating, and give advice for those looking to get into the industry.
There is no doubt that Health and Safety is a high growth industry, especially following the implementation of the new sentencing guidelines introduced in Feb 2016. It has become a vital part of business management processes and as a result, the number of opportunities within the industry are expanding.
As a graduate you could work in any number of sectors, from manufacturing to oil and gas, working within an individual business, or work as a consultant working with businesses in many different industries. Working as a consultant is very diverse and ideal for those who want variety in their work.
Paul Barker, Health and Safety Consultant at Southalls said: “One of the main reasons for getting in to Health and Safety was the many different types of clients you may have. It can be applied to practically any industry and along with that there are many opportunities. I preferred the idea of helping a company prevent accidents rather than simply being reactive to them.”
For graduate Beth Bishop, one of the biggest challenges as a graduate was balancing work with studies: “I completed a postgraduate diploma in Occupational Health and Safety while working; you learn a lot about yourself and how you can manage your time more effectively.”
So, what are the key skills?
It helps to be great with people, good at building rapport and being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Problem solving is important too – for example, where some safety inspectors may expect resurfacing a whole yard to remove potholes, suggest resurfacing just parts of it.
String people skills are fundamental in a consultancy role, since it’s all about building trust with your client. Paul Barker continues: “It’s important to have a good working relationship with your client to help bring about positive change and ultimately help their business.”
For those wanting to get into Health and Safety, it’s worth exploring what opportunities are out there, including graduate scheme and apprenticeships. Consider what transferable skills you have from previous jobs and experiences, and how this could improve your chances of getting into the industry.
Beth Bishop continues: “Health and safety is involved in most jobs, so even if it’s a part-time summer job, try and get involved as much as possible. There will always be opportunities, if you push you’ll get a positive response.”
For more on Southalls, visit its website here.