Oliver Williams, Regional Health & Safety Manager
Starting his career in the Construction industry, Oliver joined WorkNest in 2013 as a Health & Safety Consultant and has since supported a diverse portfolio of clients, from large 700-employee leisure resorts to his local chemist.
Having moved into a management position in 2017, he now oversees a team of 15 consultants, offering an extra layer of technical expertise, whilst remaining very much hands-on as a consultant and mentor for his own clients. A Chartered Member of IOSH, Oli’s specialisms include behavioural and cultural change and building strategies to support internal competence.
Fire Risk Assessment and Fire Safety Management
OH&S Management Systems BS 18001 Lead Auditor
Level 5 Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety Practice
An interview with Oliver
Tell us more about your background
I think my passion for health and safety stemmed from my role as a site manager at a construction company. This wasn’t an area that I necessarily felt a passion for, so when the opportunity to train as a health and safety officer within the company arose, I leapt at the chance. I’ve always taken a particular interest in this area, so when I was accepted for the position, things just snowballed from there. I went on to fulfil several more health and safety-based roles before joining WorkNest in 2013. I served as a consultant for three years before moving on to the Regional Health & Safety Manager role, and I continue to hold this position today, managing a team of 15 consultants. All-in-all, my experience in the field now spans 13 years.
What does your role at WorkNest entail?
Lots of coffee, emails and phone calls – that’s the short version! More specifically, much of my time is spent engaging with my team of consultants and the wider business in delivering our service. I also look after my own small group of clients, ranging from a large, 700-employee leisure resort to my local chemist, and spanning the hospitality, manufacturing, and charity sectors. I feel there’s a nice balance to my role. As a chartered member of the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, I can help my team with technical queries or anything unique or difficult. However, I’m also able to get out on-site, which is quite unusual for regional managers. I also spend a portion of my time developing new ways of working and planning the integration of new software into our strategic approach. My approach is simple and direct. I am strictly people-focused, and like to get straight to the point without any jargon or unnecessary complications. I also like to get close to the client’s culture and almost become a part of their team.
Which aspect of the role do you enjoy the most, and which do you find most challenging?
Because people and clients are at the centre of my approach, the most rewarding and challenging aspects of my role always revolve around them. For me, it’s always a joy to speak with a client and find out that they took heed of our advice and that it brought them positive results. On the flip side, it can be tough to deliver news to a client which you know is going to have a significant impact on them. However, the key is in how you approach that conversation; that’s something that comes with experience.
What advice would you give to an employer?
Make a plan and stick to it. I see so many safety plans which are very good on paper but haven’t been followed through or kept updated. One of the benefits of working with WorkNest is that we help you to not only develop these plans but turn them into fully-functioning systems and procedures. I would also say that evidence is key, even if it sounds a bit obvious. Be it documents, conversations or visuals, they all have their benefits and place. Employers must be constantly wary of this. Finally, I would stress the importance of communication. So many employers either don’t do it, or it’s too one-way.
Why do you think health and safety sometimes gets a bad rap?
I think there’s a perception that health and safety professionals equate to the fun police. It’s often down to a misunderstanding of the legislation and an underestimation of risk. As a result, people assume that our job is to say no to everything and basically stop them from having fun. In reality, at WorkNest at least, we’re not here to be overly restrictive; it’s about taking a sensible, proportionate approach to risk and helping employers execute their plans as safely as possible. I’ve even helped a client of mine with an “axe throwing” risk assessment; you can’t get much more fun than that!
How would you describe WorkNest’s support, and what makes it unique?
The people. When you work with us, you get a dedicated consultant as well as access to our national team of consultants. As a result, your support is not limited by your consultant’s knowledge or experience; you will have access to a combination of hundreds of years’ experience in the health and safety field.
Who you’ll be working with
Executive Director, Privacy International
WorkNest supports our 280 staff members with Employment Law and Health & Safety and has provided quality management training too.”
Head of Service Delivery, Catalyst Choice
We get a great deal of comfort and satisfaction knowing that we have support as and when we need it, in a decisive and responsive way.”
Group HR Director, Culina Group
We moved our legal support to WorkNest (formerly Law at Work) having previously used a time and line law firm. It was important, though, that an all-inclusive fee structure did not come at the expense of quality. Thankfully we’ve been delighted with the service we’ve received from WorkNest.”
What we recognised in WorkNest is the background that they have. They are able to supply knowledge and experience in a number of disciplines, which enables us to develop our business in a way that’s safe, to do it on time and with a quality to it.”
Director of Human Resources and Health & Safety,
Bluestone National Park Resort
Chief Executive, The Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust (JRCT)
As the company started to get larger, we knew we had to protect our employees and our contractors both onsite and in the offices. WorkNest is exactly what we needed to move the company forward.”
Operations Director, Beaverfit
Pineapple have worked with the team at WorkNest (formerly Law at Work) since 2003, and we have built a trusted partnership together. We particularly like WorkNest’s concise and practical advice concerning employment law/HR issues and also appreciate their totally supportive approach in all areas of health and safety.”
Pineapple Dance Studios
I’ve taken WorkNest into every organisation that I’ve worked with. I’ve introduced them to many teams and many colleagues and referred them with absolute pleasure because I genuinely trust in the service that we get.”
People Director, The Works