A day in the life: HS&E manager

Claire Williams spends her days keeping people safe – and brushing up on her Welsh

How long have you been in your job?

I’ve been at Aberystwyth University for almost three years, after relocating to the beautiful Ceredigion coastline with my husband. It is a wonderful place to live and work whilst also offering an occasional holiday home to family and friends.

What is it about your job that gets you out of bed in the morning?

I thrive on ensuring staff, students and visitors to our campuses enjoy their activities in a safe environment. It is hugely rewarding to be part of a workforce that is dedicated to making sure our students and staff have a positive experience whilst learning, researching and working with us.

What’s the first thing you do when you get into work?

I have a cup of tea and check in with the health, safety and environment (HS&E) team before catching up on emails and going through my daily work plan.

Who are the two or three people you talk to on a daily basis?

As a Welsh learner, I try to ensure at least one daily Welsh conversation with my colleague Rhodri Gravell. This builds my confidence for when I speak with colleagues. I usually talk to Sean Kenny, projects manager, and Tom Bates, head of facilities management and security; we all work together in the estates, facilities and residence department.

What’s the best thing about your job?

Colleagues and students that I work with, learning about their work and research in the university and how we, the HS&E team, can help them deliver their teaching, research and work activities in a sustainable, healthy and safe manner.

Also, being part of the university team that enables filming on campus. In late 2018, an episode of epic Netflix series The Crown was filmed at Old College and the Pantycelyn hall of residence, where Prince Charles studied and boarded in 1969, which added a new and exciting dimension to my role.

And the worst?

Being told someone has been accidentally hurt whilst on our campus or undertaking work activities on behalf of the university. An infrequent occurrence, thankfully, this is a reality in my role, and serves as a reminder of the importance of health and safety across the university.

Being a smiler helps me to find positive outcomes in the most difficult circumstances

Your number one most vital prop/tool/piece of equipment?

My phone is never far away, keeping me up to date, and being a smiler helps me to find positive outcomes in the most difficult circumstances. I try to walk campus at least once a week as it’s a great opportunity to engage with colleagues, students and visitors. The university’s vice-chancellor, Professor Elizabeth Treasure, will join me from time to time to discuss our journey to continually improve health and safety, and the wonderful environment we enjoy here at Aberystwyth.

Which five words sum up your typical day?

Teamwork; challenging; improvement; diverse; satisfying.

If you weren’t in this role, what would you be?

Probably working for the police or as a lawyer. I have a strong sense of personal compliance, which is why health, safety and environment was a calling rather than a career choice.

Claire Williams is health, safety and environmental manager at Aberystwyth University

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