Health and Safety Officer Leah recently returned to the housing sector.

She is passionate about her role and enjoys the challenge of making health and safety fun for her colleagues.

When people ask me what I do for a living, and I mention Health and Safety I often get a few glazed looks and people assume it must be very boring! In all honesty, that couldn’t be further from the truth!

After finishing my degree in Criminology, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do, and I thought I didn’t really have any skills which would be transferable to a long-term career. I always assumed that a job was just to pay the bills and outside of work was what mattered. In reality, now I realise how important it is to get a job that you love and feel passionate about.

I first started working in social housing around 10 years ago while working for Wales and West Housing. I gained a role in their emergency alarm and contact centre and this really kickstarted my understanding of what social housing is all about; people. I learnt about what different departments did, spoke to residents and realised that social housing is made up of a lot of areas of expertise that come together to support communities and people.

After becoming an office first aider and fire warden, I started to become interested in health and safety. I never really knew what they did but after loving the first aid and fire course that I was sent on, I wanted to find out more. I spent some time shadowing the team outside of my normal role and quickly became hooked. I loved that health and safety was so varied and specialised in equal measure. I found that some skills I’d gained along the way in my degree and working in other areas of the business were easily transferable to health and safety which is also why I think I liked it so much! I have an investigative and lateral thinking mind which helped with things like accident investigations and understanding why processes/actions were done a certain way.

I was lucky enough to be offered a Health and Safety Assistant role and from here, my passion continued to grow. Being quite creative, I decided to create fun health and safety videos for staff which received positive feedback. I quickly realised that health and safety doesn’t have to be boring and if anything, a creative approach to it made people more engaged and understanding of it. I was also fortunate to have a knowledgeable and kind team around me who always supported me.

After some time as a Health and Safety Assistant I took on a role at South Wales Police as a Health and Safety Advisor which offered me experience at a higher level. Here, my role involved conducting spot checks on areas of the force during the height of COVID-19 to ensure that officers, staff, and the public were safe. As well as this, I was heavily involved in a project investigating assaults on officers which suited my investigative mind. I realised that skills I had learnt through my degree and at the start of career were transferable, especially into Health and Safety. I am always asking questions and like to understand the ins and outs of why things happen and how they can be improved. While at the police I was awarded an ‘above and beyond’ award at the annual awards ceremony for my help in the response to COVID-19 which I was very proud of.

After some time in the police, I started to miss housing. I feel like within social housing there’s always a family like feel. When I saw a job come up at Linc I jumped at it! I was over the moon to be offered the position and as soon as I met the team I knew it was the right step. Moving to Linc has been so valuable for many reasons. I’ve been trusted with making decisions, supported on topics I haven’t come across before and been provided the opportunity to go on training courses to expand my skill set. I started at Linc during the middle of the pandemic which could have been quite daunting but everyone made me feel very welcome. I am a Health and Safety Officer at Linc looking after corporate safety. I love the variety this offers and one thing I’m passionate about is engagement. I want people to feel safe to ask questions and also enable them to make their own decisions about safety. I’ve just formed a new Health and Safety Champions Group which is for both staff and residents with the aim to make a positive difference to the community and workplace. Safety is for everyone, so my ethos is to make it fun! I want to make a difference and I know that Linc have put me on the right path to be able to do that.

If you’d have asked me a few years ago if I’d ever work in health and safety, I probably would have said no but I couldn’t be happier and this doesn’t just feel like a job to me, it feels like a career.

I feel proud to be a woman in health and safety as it’s such a male-dominated profession. Only around 30% of health and safety professionals are women but this is something which actually drives me to be the best practitioner I can be.

 I have a young son and it’s important for me that he grows up seeing me in a role where I’m passionate about what I do and can show him how I make a positive difference. I am very grateful to work at Linc as their agile working policy has made me a better mum without impacting on my role. Their support and flexibility has meant that I can now take my son to classes while still delivering what I need to. If anything, it’s made me more determined to make sure I’m doing the best job I can and always want to give more to an organisation who wants me to succeed and develop.

What I love about health and safety is that it’s for everyone. Every day we risk assess situations without knowing it, avoid accidents and create a safe environment around ourselves to ensure that we’re safe. With that in mind, when people discuss health and safety it’s often done so with rolled eyes and a huff because people see it as a ‘can’t do that’ subject. I love my job because I want to be an enabler and want people to feel interested and passionate about their own safety and those around them. I like working with others to make a difference and it’s a special feeling working together to a common goal with other like-minded people around you.