“NEBOSH has given me the confidence I need” says Kelvin Opara

Thursday, 7 March 2019

Kelvin Opara, originally from Nigeria and now based in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE) describes how his NEBOSH qualifications caught the eye of SGS, one of the world's leading inspection, verification, testing and certification companies – and how his studies have given him the confidence to make recommendations to senior managers.

I first became passionate about health and safety when my Dad, who works as a builder, and my older brother, who’s a mechanical engineer in a multinational company, came home with stories of workplace incidents. My question would always be, ‘Is there no one checking what happened and correcting things so the same thing doesn't happen again?' Immediately after university, I started my safety studies: my passion for a healthy environment was and still is my driving force.

My details were on a jobs site when SGS saw my CV and called me; part of the reason they wanted to see me was because I hold NEBOSH qualifications. I went for the interview, and I was selected for a contract job, which I started in November 2017. The position I held was Lead HSE with the well logging team in oil and gas services. My role involved informing and training people about health and safety, mitigating the hazards and risks, and carrying out risk assessments.

I have the NEBOSH International General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety as well as the NEBOSH HSE Certificate in Process Safety Management, and in 2018 I completed the NEBOSH International Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety. Keeping motivated to study whilst working was tricky but I managed to fit it in. I'm very proud to have achieved this qualification which is so well respected across the globe.

In the UAE, a large number of employers look for people who have a NEBOSH Diploma, so it gives you an edge over other candidates when you’re looking for positions. When I passed, I was so excited to put it on my CV, and people respond really positively when they see it. I would recommend the Diploma to anyone who already has the International General Certificate as it takes your knowledge to the next level and is very prestigious.

When my contract at SGS finished, I took up the position of Freelance Health and Safety Consultant with Crest General Contracting LLC. My job is to deliver health, safety and environmental procedures.

There have been so many times that my NEBOSH qualifications have helped me in my work. The International Diploma syllabus is quite broad, covering a lot of different topics. Studying for the Diploma is very interesting in itself – there’s a lot you think you know but you don’t! I now get to put the knowledge I gained into practice daily at work. In a recent case for example, a painter was feeling dizzy all the time and nobody was sure why. I sat with him and did an investigation and discovered that the paint he was using contained an epoxy compound and he’d been using it in a slightly confined space that wasn’t well ventilated with no respiratory protection. I reported this to the management team and recommended they provide the team with appropriate respiratory protection and either ensure the area was well ventilated or install local exhaust ventilation. That’s something I wouldn’t have known without the broader view my studies gave me.

But it’s not just subject knowledge that the Diploma gives you. Gaining the qualification has really helped with my management skills: it has given me the confidence I need when I’m talking to management. Confidence comes from a combination of experience and study, and my NEBOSH qualifications have really boosted me. 

In conclusion, my appreciation goes to my wife for her support physically, emotionally and psychologically. My sincere thanks to my elder brother who believed in my passion and financially backed me up as I started my NEBOSH journey.

If you’re interested in the NEBOSH International Diploma you can find more information here: https://www.nebosh.org.uk/qualifications/international-diploma-in-occupational-health-and-safety/