My Story: James Howe, MPA, CSP, CHST
I have taken the lead in a safety and health compliance capacity throughout my military career as an officer and senior noncommissioned officer. As the lead safety officer on many high-risk tactical missions and training events, such as live fire exercises and explosive demolition ranges, I have further served the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in a civilian capacity. Through my experiences both as a service member and a civilian, I have gained the skills required to initiate a career in health and safety.
Throughout my path to becoming a full-time safety professional, I employed the SSH B06. 01 – Activity Hazard Analysis for all training events and missions as a service member as well as for projects as a civilian. Having this experience with risk mitigation further supported my endeavor.
While serving as a construction representative with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 50% of my responsibilities were to enforce safety compliance with the contractors I provided support for. As my level of responsibility increased with the size and complexities of the projects assigned, I embraced safety even more. Learning on the job, observing the contractors and their site safety managers with only an OSHA 30-hour training at my side, I realized I had a niche for health and safety. I could only imagine what further training and professional certifications would do for my career.
I immediately started inquiring about what might qualify me to transition into the field of full-time safety. I followed the advice of an active safety manager and pursued my OSHA 500 training. I took two weeks’ vacation and attended OSHA 510 and 500 courses for construction in hopes of opening the door for my new career. Once completed, I applied to a large construction firm and was immediately hired.
I am continually developing my education and skill sets while maintaining my current credentials as a construction safety professional. It is certainly challenging to remain relevant in such a vastly evolving profession. My advice to others pursuing a career in health and safety would be to get as much experience as possible. Seek the training certificates and credentials that are currently and projected to be pertinent in the construction industry. Be willing to travel and experience diverse climates and demographics. Be prepared to cross over to other industries, such as general industry, medical, maritime, mining or even agriculture, in the event your career path takes a turn in another direction or location.
James Howe, MPA, CSP, CHST
Independent Safety and Quality Management Contractor