It’s often the role at work that not many people are willing to take on: the office health and safety rep.
But three years ago, when Brook Rush put his hand up for the position at the Manawatū District Council, he had no idea that, with the help of SIT2LRN, it would lead him towards a new career path.
“My motivation for becoming a rep initially came from a wellbeing perspective and wanting to create an environment where staff felt happy to be at work and that they could bring their complete selves to work. "
“Before joining the council, I had come from a job where people were unhappy, there was low motivation, people were encouraged to leave their ‘problems’ at home and they generally didn’t enjoy being at work. We spend way too much time at work for that to be the case and I saw the detrimental effect that had on my colleagues mental wellbeing."
“After a few months I realised I was enjoying my health and safety work more than my day job, so started discussions with the general manager of People & Culture about studying towards my health and safety diploma so I was in a position to make a move to a permanent health and safety position at some point in the future.”
He began that transition in February, working 20 hours of his week as the safety and wellbeing officer. Since November, that’s turned into a full- time role.
“It feels great to be realising my goal of working full-time in the health and safety space and I am incredibly grateful to both the council and SIT2LRN for helping me get to where I am on my career journey.”
“I really enjoyed studying with SIT2LRN. I had done some distance- learning before, but only short courses that have been a couple of months in length, so studying part- time towards this qualification over two years has been challenging at times, but an enjoyable challenge,” he said.
His employer had been “incredibly supportive”, gifting him a study day each fortnight and he’d worked hard to ensure he made the most of that day and keep work distractions to a minimum – it was all about trying to manage his time and the priorities to the best of his ability.
Now Brook is keen to repay the support he’s received by making the council “a place where people are happy and confident to bring their whole selves to work and a place where staff feel comfortable to ask for help – even if their struggle at the time isn’t work related”.
“While there is still work to do, I feel like we are in a really good space. "
“My belief is that wellbeing and health and safety in the workplace are intrinsically linked – if you feel like your workplace cares about you and you are happier at work, then you are more likely to take care of your own health and safety, as well as the health and safety of your colleagues.”