A day in the life of Jas Sekhon
20 May 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 Jas Sekhon.
What is your job, and where do you work?
I work as a Health and Safety Advisor for Arsenal Football Club.
What motivates you to get out of bed on a work day?
Knowing that the upcoming day will be different to the previous day, and different to the following day. The variety of work and diversity of projects means no two days are the same. I enjoy the idea of positively changing cultures to ensure the continuous improvement of health and safety, working closely to motivate both individual employees and the organisation as a whole.
What does a typical day entail for you?
A big part of why I love this role is that there is no such thing as a ‘typical day’. Each day is different and can involve developing safety policies and procedures, advising and training staff on health and safety practices.
What is the top priority on your work agenda at the moment?
Being new to the Club my top priority is to make connections with key functions to ensure we work together in implementing the Clubs health and safety strategy which on completion would see us achieving the British Safety Councils 5-star award.
Now, with the recent outbreak of COVID-19, my main priority has become to assist the Club with the pandemic, ensuring the health, safety and welfare of all employees, visitors and contractors and making sure we’re as prepared as possible to deal with the crisis as it unfolds (keeping on top of the constant changes is definitely keeping me on my toes)!
What skills are key to your role?
Communication, being proactive and flexible, and patience are essential. To build relationships with internal staff and external stakeholders, in order to influence successful change for the organisation, requires effective communication and interpersonal skills. Moreover, being able to respond to legislation changes and adapting your approach to align with best practice requires a level of flexibility and proactiveness; therefore, in order to be successful in my role I focus significantly on my own continuous professional development. Finally, a level of patience is definitely required when trying to implement change and expecting it to happen promptly!
What route did you take to working in the field of H&S?
After graduating from university, where I studied Business Management, I secured my first job in a small family business and though my role wasn’t in health and safety, given the shortage of personnel I was asked to put together the company’s fire plan. I enjoyed this task so much that I began looking into health and safety roles and how to obtain a career within this industry. I developed my knowledge by self-funding my studies in both the NEBOSH Certificate and Diploma.
I have gained experience in implementing and working to BSI management standards (OHSAS 18001, ISO 14001 and ISO 9001) which has enabled me to understand how to apply a best-practice approach and effective strategy, to manage processes to ensure requirements are met within set timescales and budgets.
I have developed as a health and safety advisor working in complex multi-site organisations in many industry sectors including, manufacturing, policing (events, firearms, railway), facilities management, warehouse distribution and private consultancy.
What advice would you give a person thinking of working in the health and safety industry?
Align your ethos with that of a good health and safety management system, which is to continually improve and develop. The world of health and safety is forever changing and its important to stay open and focused on the new changes. Networking and speaking with others in this industry is key for sharing best practices. Be adaptable; a good H&S Adviser needs to be able to adapt information to cater to different groups at different levels in order to get them on board to system changes. Find a good mentor and always be open to listening and learning.
When did you last laugh in work? What made you laugh?
I laugh daily! I am fortunate to be part of an amazing and unique team which encourages light-heartedness. The place you work and the atmosphere you are surrounded with is very important for your wellbeing (you spend a lot of time at work – it needs to be a pleasant environment) and I have always been conscious of this when moving roles.
What is the best part of working in your field?
I find the role both extremely rewarding and challenging. There’s so much variation to it that you could never be bored. One day you can be working on implementing the organisation’s H&S strategy and the next training individuals out on field. For me, the most rewarding part of my job is knowing you have made an impact, successfully changed cultures/opinions, and know that you have helped the organisation ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of its employees and others.
What do you see as the biggest challenges to health and safety at work currently?
I would say some of the biggest health and safety challenges are musculoskeletal, mental health and wellbeing. This is exacerbated by long hours and lack of management support. This is an area Arsenal are focusing on; the health and safety strategy is run by the Executive Board and Directors have monthly updates on the Club’s health and safety performance. In order to overcome these challenges, it is vital that the health and safety management has commitment from senior staff and management. This has recently been recognised by the British Safety Council and I am proud to be working for a club which has received a distinction in the upcoming International Safety Awards.