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In the spotlight with Jayne Lombardi

03 August 2022

This month we put Orbit's Jayne Lombardi in the spotlight to find out how she found herself in the world of health and safety and her thoughts on winning the Woman of the Year award at the Safety and Health Excellence Awards.

How did you get into the health and safety industry?

Well, my favourite teacher, Mrs Hardy told me that I should study Law; in those days as a teenager I knew best and studied Art and Design.

I did not set out to be a health and safety professional and I started my working career as a graphic designer. However, while I loved design at college and university, after working for 18 months as a designer, I was quite literally bored, not challenged and – much to my mums dismay – I went to work for an insurance company, which I loved. I worked my way through sales to underwriting, to claims and then into the fraud team. I was made redundant and was then very lucky to work for a well-known world-wide hotel chain dealing with their litigated civil claims and supporting general managers all over Europe with their safety and security. It was in this role where I had my first taste of safety and, with such a strong moral compass, I knew I had a passion for keeping people safe, not only at work but in home and leisure activities. I moved into housing 15 years ago and have never looked back. 

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I love the job I do and the company I work for. I have a passion for every colleague, customer and contractor to remain safe - not only at work but when they go home. I care about every single one of them. The most enjoyable thing is making a difference to someone every day, going that extra mile so people know I care. The people I work with at Orbit are passionate and amazing and I am humbled by them and the customers I work for. Work safely to go home and live safely at home’.

You recently won Woman of the Year award at the SHE Awards? Can you tell me about the importance of this new category?
It was an honour to be nominated by my team in the first place. There are not many women in the Health and Safety profession, so it was amazing to know that this award is to recognise the outstanding Health and Safety performance by a woman. 

It was a very popular category. How did you feel when you were announced as the winner and did you enjoy the evening?

To be honest I never expected to win; I was truly humbled to be shortlisted with women from all over the UK who have worked extremely hard in this industry to get to where they are and to get the recognition they deserve for their exemplary standards. It hopefully not only promotes and encourages women to follow careers in health and safety, but also encourages women to follow careers in housing in health and safety.

What do you think are the biggest challenges facing the health and safety industry in UK?

There are those challenges we all face with new legislation, such as the Fire Safety Act and Building Safety Act, and a lack of competent professions, however this is never going to change. There will always be changes to statute and we will always need more competent resource. However I think we, as health and safety professionals, have to continue to change the culture from that of authoritarian to a collaborative solution based approach, nurturing but also challenging the businesses we work within, and coaching and mentoring our colleagues to create a platform of engagement and openness. Where individuals feel and know they are valued and cared for.

How do you think these challenges can be overcome?

Culture is king here. We need to ensure we have visibility and transparency within our organisations. We know what we need to do. Even though we might not think we need to, it is essential that we ask and encourage others to ask the right questions, sharing confidence and competency, so that we create positive health and safety at all levels.

What sets Orbit apart from its competitors?

Orbit really does care about its employees and its customers; you really feel the difference working here. Our chief executive, Mark Hoyland, refers to Health, Safety and Compliance as our licence to operate. Orbit really does want to improve people’s lives, create thriving communities and provide homes that are safe, warm and secure for all of our customers.

What are you most memorable successes at Orbit?

Our first RoSPA Gold Award as a team. Knowing we were making a difference and colleagues really feeling and knowing that their safety is paramount, that we really do care.

What’s next in the product pipeline for Orbit?

We have launched an award-winning customer safety fire app, which helps our customers and the wider public to understand fire risk in their homes. We would like to develop this further with other property safety measures and compliance, to provide additional reassurance for our customers.

What’s your vision for the future of Orbit?

To continue to be the best in the sector at customer and colleague safety, and ensure that everyone, both colleagues and customers, feel safe to raise any concerns in an inclusive and diverse safety system, without barriers and exclusions. For Orbit to encourage best practice across the sector and influence government policy with our best practice approach. Work safely to go home and live safely at home.

What do you think the medium term future holds for the safety industry globally?

There is a lack of highly qualified and professional resource within the industry and that is going to be a challenge. As a profession I think we need to ensure that we nurture and encourage investment in individuals as well as in strong safety management systems. This will really deliver benefit and create stronger organisations where their workforce feel engaged and valued.

What health and safety issues are you most passionate about?

Removing the Health and Safety Police stigma from my profession. We are enablers and not there to stop things happening, just enable them to happen more safely. Making sure all colleagues go home safely to their families and all customers live safely in their homes. This is my happy place.

How can we entice more young talent to work in the health and safety sector?

We each as individuals in the profession have a responsibility to encourage and nurture the next generation of professionals from all back grounds and genres.

Jayne Lombardi is head of health, safety and insurance at Orbit. For more information, visitwww.orbitgroup.org.uk