HSE People is proud to be working with a team of Champions to raise the profile of the HSE industry and to support our members. Today we speak with Chris Wagstaff, Associate Director of health and safety at Peninsula.
What is your job title, where do you work and what do you do?
I am an Associate Director of health and safety at Peninsula, a UK-based health and safety consultancy specialising in the provision of health and safety consultancy services to SMEs. My role is very varied, I could be supporting clients with a complex fire risk assessment one day, supporting and developing a colleague the next day and delivering IOSH training the next (and I love it!). I am fortunate to work with a team of over 80 superb health and safety consultants and an excellent office team.
How did you get started in HSE?
I was a manager in a volume retailer, working mostly in the stock room and operations departments. You find that there are a lot of crossover skills in retail and health and safety, such as communicating and influencing a wide variety of people, the need to work hard, fast and manage your time effectively. I took an interest in health and safety and it naturally become part of my role. I went on to study the NEBOSH cert and then the Diploma in my own time, then moved on to a local authority for a short while, before working in health and safety consultancy where I am now. I was also a NEBOSH Examiner for four years and have been an IOSH mentor for just over four years.
Why did you want to become an HSE People Champion?
I see the role of being a ‘people champion’ as an opportunity to promote the great people within the health and safety industry in a positive light. Health and safety is so much more than just ticking boxes, it enables businesses to grow and to foster a safe working environment and this opportunity could show practitioners and business owners the importance of what we do. The UK economy relies on businesses and a positive H&S culture is fundamental to a successful business which often derives from the health and safety practitioner those business owners are dealing with.
Who or what inspires you?
There are many role models out there, but two that stand out for me are J.K. Rowling and Jocko Willink.
Rowling overcome challenges in her personal and professional life, only to come out the other side as a super-successful person and still spends time and money investing into her philanthropy work and having a family.
Willink is the epitome of consistently working hard, staying self-motivated and promoting good leadership through listening and decision making. He also writes children’s books to help them through the difficulties they face growing up.
What are you excited about for 2023?
There is lots to look forward to, but if I had to narrow it down to two it would be the greater awareness of looking after your physical health to help and improve mental health, and use of technology in safety.
I feel like mental health and been at the forefront for people in both their professional and personal lives for many years which is great, but often I can read an entire article about mental health, CBT, stress risk assessments, etc and there isn’t a single mention of exercise, nutrition and looking after yourself. However I feel this is changing and education is improving.
It will be interesting to see how technology becomes more prevalent in health and safety. The use of AI, wearable technology, data from applications and robotics is going to change our industry.
If you could have a superpower what would it be?
Breathing underwater. I have a fascination for the underwater world.
Describe yourself in three words.
Thank you for answering our questions Chris, delighted to have you as one of our HSE People Champions.