“Health and safety have been part of my career since 1974. However, when the UK gas industry was privatised in the mid-1980s, the company I worked for offered me a position with a more focused health and safety role in the UK. I decided to give this a try and found that I enjoyed the work. Seizing this opportunity paved the way for an interesting career in HSE.
“I obtained several professional qualifications as my career in HSE developed: first the NEBOSH General Certificate, then the NEBOSH Diploma and finally Chartered Membership with the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health, which I have now held for over 15 years.
“Throughout my career, I have gained considerable knowledge in the field of HSE through a wide variety of work undertaken in various countries across Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. Since joining RSK in 2002, I have continued to expand my professional experience and I moved to the Middle East full-time in 2010. I am currently based in RSK’s Abu Dhabi office where I am the technical director of health and safety.
“While in the Abu Dhabi office, I have worked for a variety of high-profile clients in Iraq, Kurdistan, the UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Azerbaijan. The work is certainly interesting and varied and brings its own challenges and rewards. One of my key tasks is to develop local workforces by raising health and safety standards to the international standards considered commonplace in the UK.
“RSK offers several HSE services in the Middle East that enable me to enjoy a diverse workload. For example, one day I am working with clients to develop their HSE management systems to comply with local legislation and another I am doing site inspections and advising clients. I look forward to the opportunities and challenges ahead as RSK continues to develop its business in the Middle East.”
You spent some time earlier this year in Iraq training 12 local nationals employed by RSK for the NEBOSH Award in Health and Safety at Work.* What did you enjoy most about providing training in Iraq?
“I very much enjoyed working with the Iraqi nationals. The delegates had a thirst for knowledge and were always willing to listen and learn. They engaged well with the course and were quick to ask follow-up questions to make sure that they gained the most knowledge. They were always open to learning new skills from experienced professionals.”
Why are occupational health and safety courses so significant in the professional development of the workforce in Iraq?
“A lot of the work RSK and other companies undertake in Iraq is for international oil companies that have very high standards of health and safety owing to the nature of their businesses. Contractors or employees falling foul of these strict requirements not only risk injury or loss of life, they could also lose contracts and/or their jobs. Having a formal health and safety qualification for staff means that contractors and individuals can demonstrate their commitment to health and safety, which can increase the opportunities for winning new work, as their core values match those of their clients.
“Time spent training employees on essential health and safety matters is the best first step towards maintaining low accident and incident rates, and minimising work-hours lost through sickness and injury. Insurance companies look favourably on employers that take health and safety matters seriously and their premium rates often reflect this. It also helps companies to develop a positive health and safety culture in which health and safety compliance becomes second nature; to determine how health and safety performance could be managed better; and to meet any legal duties for protect their workforce.
“Ultimately, the most important aspects of all occupational health and safety training are to provide knowledge and to promote behaviour that help to keep employees healthy and safe in their workplaces.”
RSK can add value to companies and employees by providing high quality training courses in all aspects of health and safety. For more information about RSK’s health and safety training courses in Iraq, please see our Training Academy flyer.