Tuesday 26th March 2019
Amy-Jane Farr, Associate Health & Safety Compliance Advisor at calfordseaden, discusses her path into the world of health & safety and improving perceptions of women in the field.
No child grows up with dreams of becoming a health & safety consultant, but my entry into this career has been incredibly rewarding, allowing me to work on large-scale schemes and give valuable input into the design, construction and end use of buildings and their associated infrastructure.
The construction industry offers a host of career avenues, and after an initial administrative position in the field, I homed in on construction health & safety and design risk management to deliver safer buildings and environments.
As an Associate Health & Safety Compliance Advisor, I spend the majority of my time providing Principal Designer services, working with architects, structural engineers, service consultants and landscape architects. It provides me with a holistic view of each project, working in a varied role which involves reviewing designs and BIM models, attending design workshops, producing Pre-Construction Information Packs, liaising with the HSE, and supporting design changes and buildability issues.
I have had extensive training since I started in the field, ranging from seminars and workshops to an NVQ Level 5 Diploma. The diploma was an intensive course and assessment of my current knowledge, covering a broad range of topics, many of which were outside of my everyday working activities; obtaining it allowed me to apply for and achieve Chartered Membership of the Institute of Occupational Health. At the core of my progress is the invaluable training and support I’ve received from my employers.
I have been in the industry for 10 years and am proud to work in a team that has an equal gender split. It’s vital to work within a team where skills, knowledge and hard work are valued over gender.
As a woman in construction, I’ve found our own perceptions of the industry are often a barrier to career growth. While I’ve come across people who don’t think women have a place on site, I regard these moments as opportunities to prove to my peers that my knowledge and skills are in no way determined or hindered by my gender.
That’s not to say there aren’t any obstacles to overcome. While more women are entering the health & safety and construction fields, the number of women in senior management positions remains low. In addition, work still needs to be done in destigmatising and changing the perceptions of women in roles such as mine – if only to stop people joking about needing risk assessments! I hope that everybody – regardless of gender – can feel the same sense of pride that I do in this role and in the value that Principal Designers add to projects.