Career prospects in 2012
23 January 2013
Vicky Kenrick speaks to HSM about the expanding industries that are welcoming new Health & Safety professionals for and throughout 2012, highlighting in particular opportunities within the Risk & Safety,Chemical and Renewable Energy sectors...
With widespread doom and gloom about unemployment it is easy to assume there are few opportunities available. However Vicky Kenrick suggests that if you know where to look there are actually several boom sectors in the UK which offer a range of opportunities for the health & safety professional.
Risk and safety in the Oil & Gas industry boom
Growing health & safety presence with the Oil & Gas industry is leading to an increase in risk & safety professionals. Specifically, greater supervision must occur in offshore oil and natural gas drilling sites in order to prevent environmental crises. With it being announced as recently as the end of October 2011 that the likelihood of a major offshore accident in European waters remains unacceptably high; there is a call to create effective emergency response plans for this industry. In turn, the European Commission has proposed a new law which will ensure that European offshore oil and gas production will respect the world's highest safety, health and environmental standards everywhere in the EU.
Energy Commissioner GÃ¼nther Oettinger said: "Today, most oil and gas in Europe is produced offshore, often in harsh geographical and geological conditions. Given our growing energy demand, we will need all the oil and gas from beneath our seas. But we need to prevent accidents like Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico from happening. Securing best industry practices in all our offshore operations is an undisputable must." Today over 90% of oil and over 60% of gas produced in the EU and Norway comes from offshore operations and there are more than 1000 offshore oil or gas installations in operation in European waters, of this - most production is from the North Sea region and the majority of the oil coming from the UK and Norway where the job opportunities are multiplying.
This safety update is good news for the environment, but it's also good news for the risk & safety job market. Under the new rules, the European oil and gas industry would have to assess and further improve safety standards for offshore operations on a regular basis under the control of national regulatory authorities. According to Brussels, this approach would lead to a European risk assessment process that is continuously improved by taking into account new technology, know-how and risks; in turn creating an increase in job opportunities for risk & safety professionals within Oil & Gas. Senior Risk and Safety Consultant at Allen & York, Stuart Kingsnorth, comments that "there is a demand for risk & safety consultants within the oil & gas industry, in particular this role requires an individual who is able to work in a commercially-focused environment, delivering technically complex work on time and on budget to a range of clients".
One of the key responsibilities of the Risk & Safety Consultant is risk mitigation within Oil & Gas; technical skills that are of particular demand within the area of risk mitigation are HAZOP's (Hazardous Operability & Study), HAZAN's (Hazard Analysis) and HAZID's (Hazard Identification) and are requirements for candidates seeking a new role within risk & safety.
Regulatory requirements in the chemical sector The significance of risk, safety & health in the chemical industry has been a progressively vital issue in achieving productivity and an edge in the competitive world.
Chemicals companies are facing increasing pressure to improve their EHS record, in particular, reducing pollution levels and improving energy and resource use. Meanwhile regulatory requirements are increasing, with the IPPC directive, EU Emissions Trading Scheme and REACH; these are having significant impact on the transparency of chemicals usage in manufacturing products.
Providing a safe environment for workers is also key and contributes towards attracting and retaining a skilled labour force. At Allen & York, we are witnessing a demand for health & safety professionals to work within the chemical industry responsibilities would include identifying potential areas, where possibility of flammable mixture are possible, making efforts to avoid hazardous mixtures, by inert gas purging and other methods and to declare hazard zones and providing flame proof electrical fittings and equipments.
Renewable energy opprtunities The building of new renewable energy sources continued to outstrip new fossil fuel power plants in Europe and the US during 2009, a report issued by the BBC (2010)1 has shown. One of the forces propelling the sector's rapid development is the potential to create new industries and millions of new jobs, not only across Renewable Energy but also Health & Safety.
Allen & York has witnessed that Health and Safety professionals with experience within heavy industry, manufacturing and engineering will undoubtedly have transferable skills which are desirable to the renewable energy industry. The hazards in this industry include working from height, contact with moving machinery, possible risks of electrocution or from fire and construction in very windy conditions. Offshore construction is even more hazardous including risks from large waves, diving activities and issues such as stepping from a boat onto a turbine. Wind turbines also require regular maintenance; therefore workers will be exposed to these risks regularly. This is a high risk environment with new challenges for the health and safety professional, not only are there new risks to access there is the accompanying legislation to learn, particularly with the development of more powerful wind turbines, Health & Safety professionals with this knowledge will increasingly be in demand throughout 2012.
Vicky Kenrick works for International Health & Safety Recruitment Specialists, Allen & York. Allen & York specialises in providing professionals within; CSR & Sustainability, Renewable Energy, Health & Safety, Engineering and Energy Services.