From the police to H&S: helping the families of people who have died at work provides a real insight into the true human cost of poor health and safety

Case Study: Eddie Fahy

Eddie Fahy tells us what made him make the leap from CID Investigator to Health and Safety Advisor and what his journey has been like.

Eddie, you have worked for Liverpool Hope University since January 2023. Can you tell us a little bit about the organisation?
Liverpool Hope University is a centre for higher education and quality academic research based in Liverpool, UK. The university is home to both national and international students studying across a range of academic areas with university programmes all over the world. I have certainly found it a very welcoming and satisfying place to work so far.

Your role with the university is as a Health and Safety Advisor. What does this entail?
I am the Health and Safety Advisor and I am supported by a team of Faculty Health and Safety Coordinators. My role involves supporting the university in all health and safety matters, across all areas. The university has many interesting curriculum and fieldwork activities that I enjoy getting involved with. It’s important to me that I do my job well, develop a positive health and safety culture and maintain high standards.

Before working for Liverpool Hope University, you spent 10 years working for the police investigating serious crimes and worked closely with the Health and Safety Executive during the investigation of work-related deaths. Can you tell us about your experiences and what led you to then pursue a career in health and safety?
My role as a CID Investigator meant that I was required to investigate unexpected deaths, including incidents of workplace deaths. The police take the primary role in investigation of offences other than health and safety offences, such as manslaughter, but the HSE are the subject experts and so both work together very closely during investigation. I was always seriously impressed from a police point of view as to the level of detail and scrutiny that the HSE would go to during their investigations. Observing the HSE at work is certainly a factor for me wanting to move into a health and safety career.

One of my roles was as a police family liaison officer and this meant working very closely with bereaved families from the day of the tragic incident, up to multiple court attendances many months down the line. Building working relationships with the bereaved families of people who have died at work provides a real insight into the true human cost of poor health and safety and end consequences that were so avoidable. It is certainly something that inspires me to do my job as well as I can in keeping people safe.

You have completed your NEBOSH National General Certificate, NEBOSH Certificate in Fire Safety and NEBOSH National Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety. Why did you take these qualifications and what made you choose NEBOSH?
I did some research on health and safety qualifications and it was very clear that NEBOSH was the gold standard, and so it was an easy decision to sign up for the General Certificate and then move onto the Diploma from there. I then wanted to complement my learning by achieving my Fire Certificate.

Did you enjoy the courses?
Yes, starting with the General Certificate provided me with a sound base of knowledge and led to me developing a real interest in the subject matter. I had no hesitation in quickly signing up for the Diploma, which built upon what I had already learnt, and it has given me confidence in my role.

How did these qualifications benefit you?
The qualifications were a massive benefit, helping me to forge a whole new professional career in health and safety. It was a great decision to sign up and a great decision to keep learning.

Can you explain how your role developed after completing your NEBOSH National Diploma?
I don’t think I would be in my current role had I not completed my Diploma. It has helped me develop my health and safety knowledge in quite a short period and I feel confident that everyday advice and decisions I make are mostly sound ones based on best practice and subject matter knowledge.

Later units of the Diploma also teach you about ethics, being a good professional, knowing your limitations and understanding that you’re not going to know everything and so networking and seeking the opinions of other safety professionals is important.

You have continued your studies since completing your NEBOSH qualifications. What’s next for you in terms of your professional development?
I am currently studying for a PGDip and MSc in Safety and Risk Management and I’m really enjoying the academic study so far. My NEBOSH Diploma qualified me to join the programme and without it I wouldn't have been able to take the course, so I’m really glad to have done it. I’m now focused on finishing the MSc and achieving success!

What do you enjoy most about being a health and safety professional?
I enjoy that my job covers the whole of the organisation and that I have to have health and safety knowledge across a wide area. I enjoy the interaction with people in the organisation and feel very good about resolving issues that are important to staff and students.

Looking back on your career to date, what achievements are you most proud of?
Focusing on my health and safety career so far, I would have to say achieving a distinction in both my NEBOSH General Certificate and NEBOSH Diploma. I didn’t go down the traditional university route in my younger years and so achieving academic success later in life is a great feeling.

What would your advice be to anyone at the start of their health and safety career?
It can be difficult to get into a health and safety role without prior experience, however I would advise anyone not to let that put them off. If you are able to, volunteer and seek work experience, finding ways to expose yourself to good health and safety practices.

Develop contacts in the health and safety industry. I have safety people that I am in contact with and can ask questions of from time to time. I am certainly very grateful to the experienced safety professionals who were more than willing to provide sound advice, work experience and mentorship to help me develop in the role.

I would also say know your limitations and don’t be afraid to ask others while learning the role. Keep learning: there is always something else that we need to know.