In our next Sector Spotlight on the Energy Industry we hear from Craig Smith, who is a Senior Health and Safety and Environmental Advisor with Repsol Sinopec Resources UK.
Following university, Craig returned to Orkney to start his working life with an environmental consultancy in Stromness before moving to SEPA where he worked for over 15 years. Alongside his role with SEPA he also volunteered as a retained firefighter with Scottish Fire and Rescue Service. Craig then took up a post as an environmental consultant on a cruise liner which sailed in Australia, New Zealand and Alaska. He moved into his current role a year ago and is based on Flotta.
Can you describe a typical day in your role as a Health and Safety and Environmental Advisor?
There’s really no such thing as a typical day in this job, which is what helps to keep things interesting. One minute I could be helping with a risk assessment for the varied types of work that happens on site and the next, I may be in touch with the regulatory authority regarding data on the emissions from the site. Our department has been mainly responsible for instigating the changes required during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to a significant increase in the workload.
I work back to back with a colleague on a two week on/two week off shift rotation and because things are always busy, my trip to Flotta tends to go past very quickly!
How did you end up in this role?
I studied at university in Edinburgh and returned to Orkney after my graduation in 2001.
I started my working life with AURORA Environmental in Stromness, before moving to the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) in 2002. I worked with SEPA for over 15 years and was also a retained Firefighter for 11 of those years. I left SEPA 2017 to work as an Environmental Officer with Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. I was based on a ship called Radiance of the Seas, which sailed in Australia and New Zealand in the Southern hemisphere’s summer and Alaska in the Northern Hemisphere’s summer.
I had previously applied for work at Flotta and when this job became available, I was contacted by the terminal operator, Repsol Sinopec Resources UK and started work on 1 July 2019.
What is the best thing about your job?
The variety keeps things interesting and the people I work with have all been very helpful in getting me settled into the new position. Although travel is currently restricted, the amount of training available is also great and helps too.
What is the worst thing about your job?
When you haven’t worked in the Oil and Gas industry before, the jargon and acronyms involved take a while to get used with!
What skills do you need to undertake your role?
Communication skills are very important in this role. I work as part of a team than creates and disseminates messages to the entire workforce on site. This can sometimes be done electronically, but we also have regular ‘town hall’ meetings to ensure that everybody has the information they need and has the chance to ask any questions they might have. If you’re not keen on speaking in front of a lot of people, it could make life quite hard.
What qualifications do you have?
I have seven Standard grades and six Highers from my time at KGS and a BSc (Hons) in Applied Marine Biology from Heriot-Watt University.
In addition, I have my basic Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) and a National General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety from NEBOSH.
Would you recommend this job to young people, if so why?
Although the oil price is currently low and the industry has seen a bit of a downturn due to the pandemic, the Oil and Gas industry still provides opportunities for young people.
Health and Safety is a fundamental aspect of most, if not every working environment and experience gained here will be attractive to prospective employers.
Protection of the environment, de-commissioning of retired assets and a move towards more sustainable operations is always going to require environmental expertise, so gaining a basis in this area may stand you in good stead in terms of future employment.
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