By John Son

Many people are considered a hero for saving a life. For Francis Williams, that’s his everyday job.

Francis is On-site Safety Coordinator at scaffolding company Upright Access. As a health & safety representative for the company, he is responsible for making sure everyone stays safe at work.

Given the importance of the role, it’s a good thing that Francis is no stranger to the construction industry. He started off as a scaffolder in Australia before returning to New Zealand. After doing some more scaffolding, he saw workplace health & safety as an ideal career to transition to.

And with New Zealand’s workplace health and safety laws having changed considerably over the last few years, is becoming increasingly important to have health and safety experts on site.

“Having worked in Australia, I’ve noticed that New Zealand health and safety laws are still slowly catching up to theirs,” Francis notes.

Francis Williams is an Onsite Safety Coordinator at Upright Access.

Francis is currently studying towards his certificate in Health and Safety (Level 3) to gain the skills and knowledge he needs to keep his team safe.

“By taking this course, my goal is to help my colleagues understand the new laws and make sure they’re doing everything right,” he says. He adds that it’s great not only knowing what to do in terms of health and safety, but also “being able to pass this knowledge on to the rest of the team”.

“There’s no use in me keeping all the information to myself – I need to let everyone else know as well.”

One of the ways Francis is doing this is by holding weekly health and safety meetings. These give staff at Upright the opportunity to speak up about health and safety issues and work in general.

Francis says providing this sort of platform gives staff the confidence to speak what’s on their mind. He adds that he’s seen a positive change in their work and attitudes to health and safety.

According to Francis, Skills played a large role in getting him to where he is today.

“I never really liked school, and Skills made it a lot easier for me when it came do studying courses again,” he says.

“I like how it’s not just book learning – there’s a lot of practical learning involved as well.”

After he completes his course, Francis wants to develop his health and safety career and “just get to the top” of the field.

“If you’re thinking of studying health and safety – just go for it!” says Francis.

“At the end of the day, if you save someone’s life or see everyone go home safely after work, that’s a job well done. There’s a high level of responsibility, but it’s not that hard. You just need the drive and motivation to do it.”