UWE graduate wins top Health and Safety Award

Issue date: 23 December 2009

Chris McCarthy (left) celebrates his award Chris McCarthy, a Health, Safety and Environment graduate from the University of the West of England has won an award at the SHP IOSH Awards, a prestigious event in the health and safety profession's calendar.

Chris, who completed his degree in 2007, received the New Entrant of the Year award for his outstanding achievements as a Site Environmental Health and Safety Manager at HJ Heinz.

Chris was first inspired to pursue a career in health and safety at the age of 16, when he completed a GSCE school project at HJ Heinz. He started a full-time position two years ago and is responsible for the health and safety of 250 employees at the company's frozen desert factory in Leamington Spa which Heinz sold to PoleStar Foods in November 2009.

Chris is proud of his achievements to date and believes that his decision to study at UWE has played an important role in contributing to this success.

Chris explains, “I decided on UWE after attending an Open Day, I wanted to live in Bristol and was impressed with the reputation that the course had within the health and safety profession. It's such a specialist area and I found that the vocational nature of the course made it much easier to apply the practical skills I needed from day one on the factory floor.

“I'm just at the start of my career, so am thrilled to have won this award. I really enjoy my role and it's rewarding to empower colleagues to look after each other and manage their workload more safely.”

A near miss and hazard reporting system is one initiative that has made a difference to safety at the factory. Chris's encouragement to staff to make better use of the system resulted in a zero per cent accident rate, down from 3.1 in 2008/9.

Chris was also a member of the UWE Athletics team and used his love of running to inspire colleagues to take part in the Great North Run as part of a health campaign at work.

On Chris's achievements, Andrew Hughes, European Risk Manager for Heinz, said “Chris has demonstrated a real passion and drive to make Heinz a safer place to work and I'm thrilled that his achievements have been recognised.”

Chris has kept in touch with Course Tutor, David Lown since graduating and current final and second year BSc HSE students will benefit from a factory visit to see Chris at work in the New Year.

David Lown, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, said “When Chris started the course he was very clear on the career he wanted to pursue and it's great to see him being rewarded in this way.”

For more information about courses at UWE see: http://courses.uwe.ac.uk

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