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A beginner's guide to the HSE profession in Nigeria; starting and growing a career in HSE.


HSE professionals in Nigeria Richmond Okezie

Safety. Health, Safety and Environment (HSE). Quality, Health, Safety and Environment (QHSE). The prestigious career. Let me start out by telling you that this is one of the most globally mobile professions. You can start your career in Nigeria, then move to Canada with little obstruction, practice in Canada, then move to the UK, and maybe move to the US. Someone started out in Nigeria, moved to the UAE and is now gearing to move to Canada. Yes. There are only a few career options that offer such flexibility and mobility. So, let’s get into it. This guide is for newbies and beginners, who are interesting in pursuing a career in HSE in Nigeria or the UK.


As an HSE officer, you will carry out risk assessments and consider how risks could be reduced; outline safe operational procedures which identify and take into account all relevant hazards; carry out regular site inspections to check policies and procedures are being properly implemented; ensure working practices are safe and comply with legislation; prepare health and safety strategies and develop internal policy; lead in-house training with managers and employees about health and safety issues and risks; keep records of inspection findings and produce reports that suggest improvements; record incidents and accidents and produce statistics for managers and do more.


Where you can work:

Universities and educational institutions; Transport Companies (Land transport, airlines, shipping); Oil & Gas; EPIC (Engineering, Procurement, Installation and Commissioning); FMCG; Hospitals and Clinics; Construction; Companies with large employees; etc.


Common HSE career paths.

HSE Advisor; HSE Auditor; HSE Coordinator; HSE Operations; HSE Process Safety; HSE Specialist; HSE Trainer; Emergency Response Coordinator, Fire Protection, First Responder, etc.


Does your academic background matter?

Yes and no. Yes, because the knowledge you already possess matters and can help your training in the field. No, because you can still get trained and start out in the field without having any technical, scientific or engineering knowledge. Anyone can become an HSE professional irrespective of their academic background.


As a newbie in the field, chances are that you belong to any of these three categories of individuals; Engineering/Science graduates, Non-engineering/science graduates, and non-graduates (higher education). Whatever category you belong to, you can enter, grow and accomplish great things in the industry and build a fulfilling career in HSE for yourself.

Working as an engineering, mechanical, chemical, electrical or construction comes with a lot of risks, to people, premises and the environment. So, a good knowledge of HSE is recommended. Further, your background will make things relatively easy for you.

Coming from a non-engineering field is also ok, as it gives you an opportunity to explore an entirely new field, learn new things and experience adventure.


Breaking-In.

Certifications and trainings. Wheew! Certifications upon certifications, trainings upon trainings.

There is a reason HSE guys always have the fattest portfolio and folders at interviews, it is because of the number of certificates they possess. Lol.

There is unfortunately no other way. So, if you are someone that does not like trainings or abhor the idea of accumulating certifications nor have the discipline, then you should stop reading now and check back here later for the guide to the accounting profession. Oh wait! That also has certifications and trainings. Looks like you are going to have to face your fear and overcome it after all. But seriously, this is the only way to start. Now let’s look at how.


Certification and more trainings.

ISPON (Institute of Safety Professionals of Nigeria):

This is the Nigerian HSE professional body. Same way you have NMA, NBA, ICAN, etc, these guys regulate the HSE practice in Nigeria. They are your first stop, in my opinion. They have branches all over Nigeria, visit their site ispon.gov.ng to find out more. The training or certification here are the basics, HSE 1 – 3, and they cost about N70k as at late last year, I don’t know how much they cost now. Whether category you belong to as a newbie, this is your first stop. There are contacts on their website to reach out to for any information you might need. You are done with HSE 1 – 3 from ISPON, what next? Oh, wait, the guys in the UK don’t have ISPON.

If you’re in the UK or in Nigeria and don’t roll with Nigerian trainings or certifications, then you should consider the UK HSE from the British Safety Council, there are different levels but do the ones applicable to a graduate. Moving on. On completion of your HSE 1-3, what is next? Nebosh.


NEBOSH IGC:

This is the National Examination Board for Occupational Safety and Health in the UK, and they provide various types of training and certifications in the field. The brand is recognized in nearly 170 countries including countries in the middle east. Remember when I mentioned career mobility? Yes. There are many courses under NEBOSH but one of the most popular is the IGC – International General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety. This is where you should start, the IGC. It has 2x Written papers (IGC1 & IGC2), plus 1x Practical Inspection Report (GC3). I heard this cost around N300k in Nigeria, but I am not certain. You should search and contact training centres in your city and compare prices or something, you should plan for this assuming you don’t have the funds at hand. Your HSE1-3 will make it easy for you to scale through this.

Nebosh IGC is level 3 (Certificate) basic qualification to enter the HSE field and manage the site daily HSE functions.

Understand that NEBOSH is the authority in the HSE field in Nigeria, and ranks way above ISPON, hence this advice. It is also internationally recognised for those looking to live and work outside Nigeria.

Gotten your Nebosh IGC, now what?


You need a job mehn.

I know, I know. Graduate jobs in HSE are near non-existent. I think the word “HSE Intern” does not exist, lol, at least not in Nigeria. I wish I had a hack on how to get jobs in HSE very easily, unfortunately I do not. You just have to research all the companies in your city you know have an active Safety department and reach out to their HR, update your CVs and LinkedIn profile, then network on LinkedIn a lot, reach out to recruiters in the Oil & Gas industry, attend Safety events, talk to the guys at your training centre regarding getting jobs. Set up job alerts on google and Linkedin, and popular job blogs, and don’t forget to check out the largest job blog in Nigeria, epicrich. Go the entire nine yards and more. There is no short cut. Do whatever you can to get your first HSE job and gain some experience, because all these trainings and certifications will be useless without experience.

The good news is, once you get your first job and gain experience, it becomes relatively easy to move around and climb the ladder.


Specialization:

Yes, now you have gotten your first job or done a few jobs, it is time to specialise and with that comes more trainings and certifications. The HSE field is broad, so specialising gives you an edge for growth. Likely areas are Fire Prevention and Protection, Hazard Analysis or Management, Emergency Response, Compliance and Audit, Crisis Management, Nuclear Materials, Risk, Industrial Hygiene, etc. So, find your calling and get the training involved.


Safety Standards.

Are you truly an HSE professional if you’re not competent or trained in applicable industry standards, ISO ISO 31000, ISO 14001, ISO 45001, ISO 9000, API RP 75, IEC 61508, IEC 6511 and more.


NEBOSH DIPLOMA

IDIP as it is popularly called is a level 6 advanced diploma above IGC, required for managerial positions with in-depth study. This is recommended for Supervisors and managers, OSHA and SHE Practitioners.


Other Certifications.

IOSH (Institution of Occupational Safety and Health)

IOSH is a Chartered body for Health and Safety Practitioners, in fact world's biggest professional health and safety membership organization. It has different membership category and it sets criteria to become a member. NEBOSH Qualification helps to gain that membership. Getting a membership at IOSH will boost your career in Health and Safety Profession.


IOSH or NEBOSH!!

For your future career and better understanding in Environment, Health and Safety I advise NEBOSH. But NEBOSH itself doesn’t give training; it makes syllabuses to qualify for the certification. Training centres are giving the training and classes.


CIEHS, a professional organisation that also grants memberships of various cadres based on the passing of some professional exams. CIEHS is American based.


On global mobility.

Moving from Nigeria to Canada or UK to Canada as an HSE professional? Then you must be wondering if your Nebosh Diploma or British Safety Council Diploma will be useful in helping you secure jobs in Canada. Yes. The good news is, Board of Canadian Registered Safety Professionals that offers The Canadian Registered Safety Professional (CRSP) which is the common HSE certification recognized in Canada has an Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with BCRSP and this allows members of both bodies to apply for CRSP/NEBOSH certifications through a streamlined application process. Many employers in Canada still demand and prefer Nebosh. Either way, you’re good.

Wherever you are planning to move to, find out the prevalent HSE regulations and certifications and positions yourself to fit in.


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2 commenti


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Aliyu Abdulkadir
Aliyu Abdulkadir
13 apr 2023

What can you say about OSHA certificates?

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