Women in construction: A day in the life of an HSQE Coordinator   

The construction industry has always had a reputation for being a male-dominated industry, with an average of just 17% of employees being female1.  Amy Byrne is aN HSQE Coordinator within the construction industry, based in Buckinghamshire*.

 A large part of her day-to-day role requires her to work with different teams in the construction industry, from pre-qualification to project setups. Amy has been an HSQE Coordinator for three and a half years and is responsible for the health &  safety of her colleagues.

Phoenix Health & Safety has supported Amy through her NEBOSH Health & Safety Management for Construction Certificate, to develop her knowledge in health & safety in the construction industry They’ve also spoken with Amy to hear about a day in her life, and what it’s like being a  woman in the notoriously male-led construction industry.

What’s your experience been like in the industry so far, and why did you choose health & safety within construction? 

“I have been in construction for a little over three years now so I am still pretty early on in my career. Previously, I was in an apprenticeship role allowing me to experience different construction roles but due to COVID, this didn’t work out. 

“Since joining my current company, I have found a real love for health and safety and took a course with Phoenix Health & Safety to complete the NEBOSH General Certificate. Following the completion of this, I really wanted to expand my knowledge further on construction-specific health and safety.

“I chose the construction course with Phoenix to expand my knowledge on health and safety in construction as it would benefit me massively with my progression into a more senior health and safety role. Being so early on in my career, it gives me the knowledge and understanding to assist with new starters and for covering health and safety on sites whenever I am needed.” says Amy

What does your day-to-day role look like, and what level of health & safety are you responsible for?  

“I am currently an HSQE Coordinator which entails multiple different activities which vary on a day-to-day basis. I generally prepare site safety files and site set-ups, alongside audit projects and assist the safety team to look for ways to adapt our documentation for better ways of working.

“From working closely with my colleagues, I have learnt how to raise concerns with management and our subcontractors to ensure works are being carried out as safely as they can be, if I see something unsafe, I can confidently stop works and suggest ways of making the work safer to carry out.

“The most rewarding thing for me is knowing that I have contributed to keeping sites safe and supporting my colleagues where needed.” says Amy

Would you say construction is a dangerous sector to have a career in? 

“I don’t consider construction to be a dangerous industry to work in as I’m a firm believer that if it is controlled and managed correctly, then there is no reason to feel uncomfortable or unsafe when working on site. In my three years of working in the industry, I have never felt unsafe walking onto a construction site.” says Amy.

Construction is still very much a male-dominated industry. What have you learnt along the way and how would you advise other women who might want to get into the sector? 

“The construction industry has been a challenge as it is still male-dominated, but it is so lovely to cross paths with other women in the industry. 

“I believe that one of my hardest challenges to date would be the fact that I sometimes have to prove that I know what I am doing. Some people may challenge you because they have the old mindset of “women shouldn’t be in the industry”, but always remember to stand your ground and if something doesn’t look right, challenge it.

“Being a woman in the construction industry can be difficult at times, but don’t let that stop you from being successful. Having a strong will to progress and always remembering there are many other women in the industry that are or have been in the same boat can help you feel less alone and really makes you feel empowered.” says Amy

How have you overcome those who haven’t taken you as seriously in your role and capacity? 

“I generally have a friendly but firm approach. If I’m out on sites I’ll ask people if they think what they’re doing is safe or right, and then I explain to them the correct process if they are not following them. I have had people talk back, this is where I’ve had to be a lot firmer with what I say or  sometimes escalate things to written warnings in rare instances.”

“I’ve been quite lucky when out on sites; any safety concerns I have, I’ve always been given the opportunity to raise them and I’ve never had anyone dismiss anything I’ve said.” says Amy

With your success in the industry so far, what three takeaways would you give others who are thinking about joining the construction sector? 

 

Amy studied the NEBOSH General Certificate and then went on to complete the NEBOSH Construction Certificate with Phoenix Health & Safety.