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In the spotlight with Tim Jones

06 April 2018

Every issue we put a BSIF member in the spotlight to share their thoughts on PPE and worker safety & health. This month we talk to Tim Jones, global market development manager, RPB Safety LLC

1) What was your first job?

My first full time job was as a car detailer back in New Zealand. I had just finished school and had no idea what I wanted to study at university. I always loved cars so it was win win for the year I did it.

After completing my Business and Marketing degree, and taking time out to compete and train full time with sport, I worked five years at one of NZ’s leading advertising agencies, moving up the ranks to senior account manager. 

Part of my portfolio of clients included Super Rugby teams (Crusaders and Highlanders), National Craft Beer Brewery’s, construction, pharmaceutical companies and retail.

2) How did you get into the health and safety industry?

As it transpired, by complete chance. My first client at the agency was a company called RPB Safety, who I always loved working with due to their extreme energy, passion and drive to create the world’s best for their customers.

At that stage in my life I had only travelled internationally with sports teams, so I was all set to take a year off work to travel to Europe and go backpacking. 

After informing my clients, RPB came back to me and asked: “How would you like to travel the world while working for us?" 

The rest is history…

3) What do you enjoy most about your job?

First and foremost, it has to be the people I get to meet and work with. RPB’s company culture is next level to anything I have ever seen or experienced! I am also thankful for our loyal distributors who feel more like mates than anything else. 

Second, I am incredibly thankful for the travel and cultural opportunities I have been able to, and continue to experience, touching on 50 countries now. Luckily now I am based in the UK, travel is a lot easier than it was from NZ…

4) If you were a film character who would you be and why?

I’d like to say Ryan Gosling, but my wife would tell me I’m dreaming ha ha. In reality I’d probably say Marty McFly off the Back to the Future trilogy, mainly because they're my favorite movies, secondly because time travel would be pretty epic!

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

I am still pretty fresh to the nuances of the UK industry specifically, however from my time visiting companies all over the world, I would say the biggest issue is the actual guy/girl at the coal face doing the job, and cutting corners. 

This may be wearing inappropriate or incorrect PPE (lack of education), or just a poor “She’ll be alright” attitude. 

Given our core business is around respiratory protection, this is even more common as you often can’t “see” the risks, or they don’t affect you in the now (e.g. falling from height immediately compared to a risk that affects you in 30 years’ time).

6) In your opinion, how can these challenges be overcome?

Education, awareness and time. We are at the mercy of a generation of “I have done it this way my whole life and I am fine”. These people are often told about the effects, given correct PPE, but will still resort back to old bad habits. My dad being a prime example…

I find that the majority of younger workers are the ones bringing about a positive change as they are far more aware of risks, health effects, having been brought up with it in general day-to-day life and being the social norm.

From a regulation and enforcement point of view, New Zealand adopted a new one two years ago where fines or infringement notices for non-compliance could now be issued not only to the company, but also to the floor manager or the employee. The latter is in the form of an instant $150 fine (similar to a police fine if they were not wearing a seatbelt). 

This certainly helped in the uptake of correct PPE, in particular supplied air respirators in paint booths. Funnily enough, once these guys were used to the new kit, they said they wouldn’t go back to the old stuff!

7) Have you got any hidden talents or interesting hobbies?

Hobbies wise, it would have to be Swiss Watches, and collecting and restoring Old Italian classic cars. I have been lucky enough over the years to add eight classics to my collection, and was in most parts able to acquire them before the prices internationally went through the roof.

Talents wise, it was usually sports related. In my youth I represented New Zealand in age grade rugby, and competed internationally in athletics as a sprinter, with the highlight, winning Gold in the 200m sprint at the Youth Olympic Games in Sydney. Also I play music daily, mainly guitar.

8) What health and safety issues are you most passionate about? 

Supplied breathing air quality, and multi-functional RPE.

Breathing air in the fact there is in my opinion a massive hole in the regulations currently, where air quality only needs to be checked periodically for “certified air”, when air composition is constantly changing depending on the environment. 

I have heard too many horror stories now where people had “certified” air checked every three months, but then had a fatality, or a serious accident when the air suddenly changed and the user wearing the respirator had no idea until it was too late.

There are products out there now that can guarantee the safety of the breathing air, alarming as soon as the air is no longer within the British standard, however companies still say “technically what we are doing at the moment is fine, so we are not interested”.

In regards to multi-functional RPE, I am referring predominantly to products which serve a multitude of purposes, e.g. respiratory, head, hearing and eye protection, all in one. 

I believe a lot of the kick back from end users to all these types of products in the past is due to most of them originating from a hard hat, and then having all the other bits added on at a later time. This causes them to be bulky, heavy, and most importantly from the user's perspective “uncomfortable”. Especially when they are being tasked with wearing these for upwards of eight hours at a time in some cases.

I love product and industrial design, so it has been a real thrill being part of a team to completely redesign these products from the ground up, with user comfort first, and then making sure everything else integrates perfectly together, and provides the highest level of safety and usability.