A day in the life of Ana Rocha

23 January 2020

Each issue HSM puts the spotlight 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 speak to Ana Rocha.

What is your job, and where do you work?

I work as a safety advisor for Aston Martin Lagonda, based in Gaydon.

What motivates you to get out of bed on a work day?

My cat, ‘Miaow’, I need to feed him. Seriously, the variety of work that comes my way and knowing that I can continuously inspire and motivate for continual improvement of health and safety. 

What does a typical day entail for you?

I don’t have a “typical” day as each one seems to be different in some aspects. I have an agenda but sometimes I just have to attend to other tasks that come up with the day. I’m either delivering audits, giving advice or training, managing safety meetings, or trying to drive behavioural change by being visible out on the shop floor.

I’m also the key safety advisor for an additional three AML sites across the Midlands and so travel to these sites every month to provide support. Each day is varied. 

What is the top priority on your work agenda at the moment?

My top priority and top challenge at the moment is to make a significant improvement at one of sites under my responsibility – I want to help them develop even more of a team spirit where health and safety is a priority and ensure everyone looks out for each other. This is important since I am not there all at time so they have to feel empowered to act. Also, Mental Health is on my radar for 2020, as this is a very important and can be a delicate subject. 

What skills are key to your role?

Capability to understand people and to motivate the workforce to achieve safety standards.

What route did you take to working in the field of health and safety? 

I completed a degree in Environmental Health in Portugal and five years ago I came to UK unable to speak a word of English. I always knew that I wanted to work as a safety advisor. My English was very poor, so I started work on an assembly line in a vehicle manufacturing plant. That was a very challenging time. It was a difficult job and I struggled to understand the requirements properly, however after a year of perseverance and improvement (home study and watching TV with subtitles!), an opportunity to work as a health and safety advisor in one of the company departments arose. I didn’t waste this opportunity and I embraced it with all my soul. The company funded my NEBOSH General Certificate as well as other training. All the experience and knowledge that I acquired when assembling the vehicles proved very useful as a safety advisor, as I have a different view and understanding of the tasks/issues associated with the activities.

What advice would you give a person thinking of working in the health and safety industry?

Observe, listen and learn. As a safety advisor we need to be able to observe and learn from other’s experience/knowledge and even from our own mistakes. Always keep in mind the real reason of the importance of the health and safety. Be honest with yourself and set a good example. 

When did you last laugh in work? What made you laugh?

I am part of an amazing team who make me laugh on a daily basis. I laugh every day at many things even about my own awkward situations, most of them related with my English!

What is the best part of working in your field?

Ensuring that workers are safe to do their job and go home safe at the end of the day. Also, seeing people doing the things that I have suggested is very rewarding. Having good feedback from the people that I am trying to help is amazing. 

What do you see as the biggest challenges to health and safety at work currently?

Ensuring that our industry keeps pace with the latest technology. This is something that Aston Martin focus on and as a positive we have recently won the British Safety Council (BSC) ‘Outstanding Practice Award’.

This is the first time the BSC have presented this special award to recognise organisations that have demonstrated outstanding practice. Aston Martin was selected for our approach to risk communication and use of technology directly accessible by those needing it on the shop floor. Participating in the awards ceremony and to have the honour of receiving the award on behalf of Aston Martin was an amazing experience.