NEBOSH supports The FA ‘Champions’

Case Study: The FA

More than 12 million people of all ages play organised football in England that falls under the governance of The FA (Football Association).

Each year The FA invests over £127 million pounds into the game. This not only supports England’s 28 different national teams, but also helps to regulate the sport, promote diversity and grow participation in football at all levels. With Wembley Stadium and the world-class training facilities of St George’s Park in Staffordshire falling within its scope, as well as 400,000 volunteers, 300,000 coaches and 27,000 qualified referees, The FA is a non-profit organisation with significant responsibilities.

The FA is also high profile and has a reputation as well as people and infrastructure to protect. Members of the FA Executive are actively involved in overseeing health and safety matters and a dedicated health and safety team including Health, Safety & Risk Advisors Sue Budd, Tom Wike and Chloe Arbuckle, led by Su Corrin, is responsible for day-to-day management. Chloe has recently been brought on board specifically to further develop the health and wellbeing focus of the team.

However, as Su explained, health and safety is similar to football in that it is very much about involving everyone at all levels. “We put a strong emphasis on achieving health and safety involvement and buy-in throughout the organisation through training and by developing a really positive safety culture,” said Su. “Central to this has been our ‘Safety Champions’ programme.”

“We’ve got over 40 champions. They help to communicate risk assessments, raise issues at departmental meetings and feed into the Health and Safety Committee among other things. It’s about steering people rather than just telling them what to do. If you take a strict enforcement approach you’ll only ever get people to do the minimum. To do what they have to do and nothing more. If you get people’s buy-in – if they can engage and see the value – then it’s a lot easier to make health and safety a part of their lives.”

FA Safety Champions occupy various roles and are spread throughout many locations. Several Champions have taken NEBOSH qualifications to help boost their understanding and capabilities. Stuart Montgomery, a Project Manager at St George’s Park, where major construction developments have taken place, said: “Having a NEBOSH National Certificate in Construction Health and Safety has helped me greatly. The knowledge has made me feel a lot more capable of challenging health and safety issues and processes with contractors. It has certainly improved the safe, efficient delivery of my projects on site.”

Sean Harte, who looks after postal and courier requests for the FA Group, holds a NEBOSH Health and Safety at Work Qualification. He said: “It’s been very useful for both awareness and eliminating risks in day-to-day operations. It’s good knowing what to look for and what to do in certain situations.”

The FA has also put 16 of its leadership team through the newest NEBOSH qualification; the NEBOSH HSE Certificate in Health and Safety Leadership Excellence. This decision was motivated by the desire to further improve the organisation’s health and safety culture and increase the engagement of senior managers. Attendees included the General Managers of both Wembley National Stadium and St George’s Park as well as Heads of Department and delegates from The FA’s leadership development initiative.

Tom Wike, Health, Safety & Risk Advisor, who was part of the group, said: “The fact that this course is endorsed by both NEBOSH and HSE was a key factor in us deciding to run it in-house. The trainers were extremely engaging and passionate about the topics covered, which generated some great buy-in from the delegates and fostered an open environment where both positives and negatives of the current health and safety management system, and the implementation of that system, were discussed.”

“The course content was a good mix of health and safety ‘need-to-knows’ and leadership tools to improve our culture and performance, which leaders could use in daily situations. The assessment was a good way to reflect on the day and develop ideas that we hope our leaders will now use in their day-to-day working lives.”

The FA’s training needs analysis found that NEBOSH qualifications are not only useful but help to engage staff. It’s currently working with employees to identify where corporate objectives overlap with health and safety development opportunities for personnel and will be looking at sending more people on NEBOSH courses in future.

Photo left to right: Sue Budd, Health, Safety & Risk Advisor, Tom Wike, Health, Safety & Risk Advisor, Su Corrin, Senior Health, Safety & Risk Manager