Home >A day in the life of Nicole Vazquez
A day in the life of Nicole Vazquez
22 January 2019
Each issue HSM puts the spoltlight on on a health and safety worker by speaking to a member of the British Safety Council about the challenges and rewards of working in this field. This time we talk to Nicole Vazquez.
What is your job, and where do you work?
I run a small business called Worthwhile Training. We primarily work with organisations in both a training and consultancy capacity to help them manage issues surrounding safety, security and wellbeing of their staff.
Last year I also took over as the organiser of the Lone Worker Safety Expo Conference, which is an annual one-day event, dedicated to bringing together experts and organisations, providing information and guidance to help manage the risks for lone workers.
What motivates you to get out of bed on a work day?
Those little lightbulb moments. When I can ask just the right question to prompt a client into seeing a solution they had not considered before or when just the right activity engages a delegate who up until then failed to see the value in training.
What does a typical day entail for you?
There really is no such thing as ‘typical’ in my job. I might be delivering a workshop to senior managers on ways they can manage the personal safety and security of their staff, I could be working with a training team helping them prepare to deliver and embed a new training programme or it may be that I am running an immersive drama-based workshop with front line staff, equipping them with conflict management skills.
What is your favourite, or most important, piece of work equipment?
A six inch high fluffy grey elephant that I take to every workshop I run!
For training to be impactful and effective, I believe that delegates need to feel safe to discuss and explore any issues that are on their mind. An unspoken undercurrent of concerns (often shared by many in the room) can act as a barrier to learning.
So, my elephant in the room is the physical representation of that.
What item would you be lost without at work?
There are some practical things I could not do without like my iphone, laptop and chargers (which I frequently lose) but all these could be replaced. The thing I could really not do this job without is ‘my team’ and they are irreplaceable.
What route did you take to working in the field of worker safety and health protection?
It certainly never was a plan! I was working in the health and fitness world and teaching at a local FE college when I got interested in personal safety. I looked for courses that could help me provide guidance to students and clients and came across a course run by the Suzy Lamplugh Trust. It was early days for the Trust and after I completed their training I was approached by Diana Lamplugh to get more involved working with the Trust.
I worked as an external consultant for the trust for over 16 years, helping to develop and deliver their material, Train the Trainer Course and working directly with clients on personal safety and violence at work issues.
Over time I got more interested in how businesses could be more proactive and put in place measures to reduce the risk of violence and aggression rather than purely train them to avoid or defuse it. This led me down the risk management route and the rest as they say…
What advice would you give a person thinking of working in the area of health and safety at work?
Equip yourself with the basics, then get some experience, then be prepared to carry on learning. Find out what really excites you and then consider specialising in that area. There are lots of generalists that do a great job, but there is always room for people who have specific skills and knowledge base.
When did you last laugh in work? What made you laugh?
We recently shot a training film at a very busy train station. We couldn’t cordon off areas or stop trains or station announcements, so we were constantly having to cut half way through a scene for interruptions. It was frustrating at the time as we were on such a tight schedule, but when we sat in the editing suite and saw the out-takes it was hysterical. I never realised just how bad my language was!
What do you see as the biggest challenges to health and safety at work currently?
Making sure that we address the real issues of today. The UK is world class when it comes to controlling physical hazards and the stats on work related deaths and major injuries reflect this. Now we need Health and Safety teams to work with HR and Security Teams to step up and tackle the social and wellbeing risks faced by workers.
Nicole Vazquez is director at Worthwhile Training. For more information, visit www.worthwhiletraining.com