I REMEMBER when I was serving my national service, I was thinking about what the future held for me after I had completed it.
What would I do? Where would I go? Would I be able to find a career or even a job for that matter? Would I like that job?
During an interview for an assistant engineer’s position, I was inspired by the safety manager’s passion and concern for workers’ safety. So I decided to embark on a career in promoting workplace safety.
I worked as a safety consultant in various job sectors, including the construction and oil and gas industries.
In 2006, I founded my own company, Safety@Work Consultancy, which advises everybody from chief executive officers to onsite supervisors on safety issues.
Today — 16 years since I first started this career — I am still in love with what I do.
A safety professional’s job
My job changes the mindsets and touches the hearts of many people.
I have been fortunate to find something that I know leads to positive change in many individuals.
I have had the opportunity to work and travel not only in Singapore, but also around the world. Truly, the world is my oyster.
Last year, I had the honour of setting up an apprenticeship named the Trainee Safety Advisors Programme (TSAP).
More than 80 young promising individuals seized the opportunity to learn and be groomed for the budding safety industry.
I continue to wake up at 5am daily, going out to work with a passion. What drives me?
Simply this — I believe my job is worth doing. It keeps many people away from harm — people who would otherwise be exposed to the sharp end of the stick.
It helps the middle management of organisations to be aware that their professional objectives are not mere project deadlines and targets.
It contributes to the entire organisation’s efforts in undertaking a journey to improve not only its safety records, but also its quality, productivity and profits.
As a safety professional, I continue to practise the knowledge gained over the years in the industry.
During these times, I have learnt management skills, project management skills, negotiation skills, presentation skills, dealing with human behaviour and so much more.
There is a flipside to this industry, though. This is because there are only a limited number of professionals.
More people of good calibre can be introduced to this industry.
According to reports, there is a need for up to 10,000 more skilled personnel in the safety health arena.
Qualities and skills
A safety professional should have a genuine care for others, a passion for life, a good education and a pure motivation to learn as much as possible.
You must be receptive to fresh ideas and alternative ways of thinking.
At times, you must be willing to undertake unglamorous tasks.
The only way to a concrete learning foundation is to be on the ground, accepting even the “dirty work” — literally.
Useful qualifications include a basic engineering diploma or degree, or a management degree. These will greatly assist in your potential to learn and seek professional development.
To qualify as a safety officer in Singapore, you must successfully complete the Workforce Development Agency (WDA) Specialist Diploma in Safety and Health.
However, this is not the only qualification that offers you good career prospects. There are many overseas opportunities available too.
Opportunities for growth
There is always a need for well-trained, motivated individuals in this field.
In fact, there are many interesting career prospects for safety professionals.
Some jobs include professional plant operation personnel and engineers, safety managers, safety coordinators and HSE (health, safety and environment) trainers.