Fortune Favours the Brave


Post by James Bird, corporate SHE operation manager, Kier Highways

Four years ago, my work life was very different to the successful career I now enjoy. Then, I held a temporary position in a steelworks after being made redundant, which offered no career progression, where I felt undervalued and unfulfilled.

While I was there I noticed the positive impact the health and safety manager at the steelworks had, and the respect he commanded. I began to wonder if it was a role I could do, so I spoke to the health and safety manager, who gave me some very simple advice.

He told me if you want to get into health and safety, the best first step is to go and do the National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health (NEBOSH) general certificate in occupational health and safety. I listened, did my research and borrowed some money from my mother to sign up for a two week intensive course.

The timing of the course was perfect in many respects as it coincided with a two week shut-down period at the steelworks. Unfortunately, to complete the final assessment, I needed to take an additional two days off, which my employer refused to grant. So I was left with a difficult choice to make. I chose NEBOSH, and I’m so pleased I did, as that’s when things started to really turn around for me.

After I finished my course, I soon found a job in traffic management and was selected to complete a traffic safety control officer (TSCO) course. I continued my NEBOSH studies and passed three more certificates in construction health and safety, fire safety and risk management, and oil and gas operational safety.

This continued success contributed to my growing confidence and profile, and resulted in me being securing my current role as corporate SHE operations manager for Kier Highways. I love my job, as I really feel I’m making a difference, working across both the strategic and local authority networks in which Kier operates.

It’s no exaggeration to say that NEBOSH completely changed my life. It gave me confidence because of the base knowledge it provided and gave me the skills I needed to progress in industry. I’m now mentored by several directors at Kier, where I feel highly valued and that I have a fulfilling career with purpose ahead of me.

I’m now taking two NEBOSH diplomas simultaneously = in occupational health and safety and environmental management – plus a law degree. Not bad for someone who once thought a NEBOSH certificate might be beyond my capabilities!

NEBOSH is the National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health. Its qualifications are held in high regard in the industry and are designed to meet the needs of those with responsibilities for health, safety and the environment.  For more information, visit the NEBOSH website.

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