From Mining Cleaner to Health & Safety Advisor
June 5th, 2019
Michelle Love, a New Zealand based Health & Safety Advisor, first came across MyPass in 2016 when working a shutdown for Methanex. She hadn’t heard of it before and began exploring the platform, realising its potential to make her work life easier.
Michelle’s career in the resources industry began thirteen years ago, when she returned home to Taranaki (NZ) looking for work and took a cleaning job. After two months, she wasn’t satisfied and instead made the call to jump the fence into Oil & Gas and never looked back.
“It was very easy to make that jump…a lot of the time it’s who you know, not what you know”, said Michelle.
This perspective is common across the industry and Michelle set about building up her network early on as she knew it would be valuable later. She utilized personal connections, made an effort getting to know the right people and admits it took a lot of hard work at the start.
“My advice to people starting in the industry would be to try and come in via someone you already know and then start building your own network.”
She said, “Sometimes you will just get shunned and that’s a part of it. Especially being a female…It helped having tough skin, I’m more boyish than a girly girl anyway.”
Over the years, Michelle has travelled for work throughout New Zealand and to Australia for a few shutdowns. Starting out as a safety observer it went hand in hand to pick up practical skills and move towards becoming a health and safety advisor.
Michelle says that there’s always areas within Health & Safety that can be improved. Working at heights and confined spaces have particularly created a lot of risks in her experience.
“Especially as technology is changing and has leaped forward exponentially in the last few years. I’ve found generational gaps between crews when adapting to new technology can create healthy and safety issues, younger generations are far more comfortable with it.”
She outlined that new technology can be really expensive which acts as a barrier to integrate it amongst crews.
Michelle shared one example of the positive impact of technology to safety practices.
“Sandblasting was a big issue but now there’s lasers that eat away the corrosion without needing to blast. The lasers create new hazards but in the bigger picture it’s preventing more issues.”
According to Michelle, one of the biggest challenges facing the industry right now is the lack of apprentices, although they’re slowing coming back.
“We need to train the next generation and make training more accessible; people need more hands on, practical experience.”
Costs, time and finding the right quality people are all potential causes of the decrease in numbers. Michelle believes implementing apprenticeships back into companies could be a solution to the problem.
“Then the older generations can share information and knowledge that they’ve built over the years, they can pass it on which doesn’t happen enough.”
Michelle’s story is unique in that she started as a cleaner and then moved into health & safety in the industry. With today’s gig economy and the frequency which people move between roles, who knows where she will end up next.
If you or someone you know has a worker story worth telling, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org