Young health and safety professionals in a warehouse, waving at camera

Sharing the Perspective of a New H&S Professional

DF SafetyNews & Updates, Other

Hello, I’m Lyka Garcia, and I am one of the HSE Coordinators with Dave Ferro Safety Ltd, and you will read more blogs from me from now on! I am here to provide my perspective as a new and young health and safety professional in the industry, and I am certain that there are a lot of people who can relate to me. 

Today, I am here to discuss my experience obtaining my 2-year Occupational Health and Safety Diploma (OHSD) at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT)

A little background about me, I have experience at an Oil and Gas firm located in Sherwood Park that triggers my passion for safety. I have met amazing people that promote a positive safety culture within the workplace, and I could not imagine them getting hurt due to high-risk activities. While working in a high-risk environment in the oil and gas industry, I witnessed a number of incidents, and this was the main reason why I decided to take the OHSD program at NAIT. 

The top three things I have learned at NAIT despite being in an online class are the importance of connecting to people, learning from the experts, and the leader’s commitment to health and safety. 

People 

It’s always the people that make your experience amazing. Despite being in an awkward Teams call meeting at the beginning of the year, the instructors were able to guide us to “break the wall” and rely on each other’s experience and knowledge to complete group tasks such as hazard assessment, risk assessment, industrial hygiene, incident investigation, building training, and more. 

The NAIT’s OHSD program shapes new health and safety professionals to work within a team, just like how we should work on improving our safety performance in the workplace. We improve as a team by maintaining open and healthy communication; even a conflict brings positivity because we choose to listen and accept new ideas and learn from one another. 

Learn from the Experts 

NAIT OHSD Instructors were able to invite guests who have valuable health and safety experience to share in order to prepare us for the role. Preparation to become a health and safety professional takes time, patience, and experience, and I am amazed and thankful to those people who were willing to contribute and support the growth of new professionals in the industry. 

Because of the significant information they’ve presented, I am sharing and applying what I have learned and became more capable to help a workplace achieve its health and safety goals. Of course, learning doesn’t stop from there, it starts from there. 

Do you know who are the experts within the workplace? It’s the workers. In writing procedures or programs or conducting inspections or incident investigations, or any other activities within the workplace, the workers’ inputs and contributions are valuable to the success and effectiveness of these documents. Do not hesitate to ask for information and learn from them! 

Leadership 

During the program, I have learned the importance of the leadership role to health and safety. Leaders should inspire, connect, motivate, and encourage employees to work safely. The values held by leaders have a huge impact on workers’ behaviours. For example, workers will learn what areas a leader prioritizes or ignores, and eventually follow. 

As health and safety professionals, we play a role in supporting the supervisors and managers within the workplace to be safety champions. Therefore, we should encourage them to find the balance between productivity and safety, and how to prioritize safety when the circumstances are unsafe for the workers. As a leader, your commitment to health and safety is one of many factors that can predict the outcome of our safety performance. 

To the new health and safety professionals like me, although safety is a broad industry, let’s focus on our goals, learn as much as we can, and get out there and get experience. Let’s not stop exploring and eventually, all our efforts will pay off. One day, we will be the next people to share experiences with new and young health and safety professionals. 

That is it for me, and hopefully, you enjoyed my first blog!