“I’ve spent 24 years ensuring my soldiers and workplaces are kept as safe as can be, ensuring I do everything possible to ensure they return home to their loved ones.”
Case Study: Gavin Swann
Gavin Swann joined the British Army in 2000 and served for 24 years in the Infantry. Now, a Establishment Safety Advisor for the Royal Navy at HMS Raleigh, Gavin tells us about his experience of transitioning to a career in health and safety.
Gavin, can you tell me a bit more about your role as a Establishment Safety Advisor.
I lead a team of three; together, we’re responsible for the health and safety of 2,000 employees at a 239-acre site and 3 smaller sites, amounting to more than 80 buildings. The site is one of the largest Royal Navy training facilities and is the door to a career in the Navy. New recruits undertake a wide range of training here, covering a wide range of subjects, including weapons handling, seamanship, firefighting, first aid, navigation, and teamwork. Their training includes classroom and simulated scenarios, so there’s a huge variety of health and safety considerations.
Why did you decide to pursue health and safety as career?
I decided to choose health and safety as a career because it felt a natural progression from the Army where so much effort is focused on ensuring the health and safety of your people. There’s nothing more important for any industry than protecting your workforce.
I also am very passionate about the protecting the environment we live in for future generations, and a lot of health and safety includes environmental safety and protection.
Which NEBOSH qualifications do you hold? Why did you decide to choose NEBOSH?
I hold the National General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety, Certificate in Fire Safety, Environmental Management Certificate and NEBOSH IIRSM Certificate in Managing Risk. I took the qualifications because it felt like a natural progression from the daily risk to life activities and in hostile environments. This is ingrained in me without realising it, having spent 24 years ensuring my soldiers and workplaces are kept as safe as can be, ensuring I do everything possible to ensure they return home to their loved ones.
Can you tell me why you decided to take the NEBOSH IIRSM Certificate in Managing Risk?
I took the IIRSM qualification as I thought it would give me a different insight and viewpoint into risk safety management within a business. Gaining different insights and viewpoints on risk safety is very important; a diverse understanding of risk safety enhances adaptability, innovation, and decision-making, contributes to more effective risk management strategies.
Did you use ELCAS – the Enhanced Learning Credits Scheme - funding to support your move to a health and safety professional?
Yes, I used my ELCAS to help fund all the courses I have completed, I've saved one set of ELCAS to hopefully complete the NEBOSH Level 6 National Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety next.
Would you say there are a lot of similarities between Armed Forces training and health and safety training?
The Armed Forces follow the Health and Safety Executive guidelines as closely as possible. Therefore, we do all the familiar health and safety training such as manual handling, display screen equipment risk assessments at desks etc, just two small examples.
Every piece of training we conduct, the health and safety of everyone is always the top priority.
What is the best piece of health and safety advice you have been given throughout your career in the forces?
I think the best piece of advice is that I need to look after my employees, provide them with a safe workplace, safe equipment and safe methods of work, all to ensure they go home to their families safely. That will make a happy workforce who will work for you.
Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
Over the next 5 years I see myself remaining in the industry whilst expanding my professional development by completing the NEBOSH Level 6 National Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety.