Colleague Spotlight

Ross Henderson, Principal Health & Safety Consultant

Ross' background

With wide-ranging experience across the construction, manufacturing and education industries, Ross has served for the past six years as one of our most capable and trusted Health & Safety Consultants. During his time in the field, Ross has garnered a truly diverse portfolio, having worked with numerous clients across all sectors.

Whether it’s a small, local charity or a large, multi-site organisation, Ross’ insight and expertise can be applied to any environment and health and safety challenge. Driven by the sense of satisfaction that comes from seeing a client improve safety standards, Ross’ solutions-focused approach continues to produce great results for our Health & Safety clients.

Ross' qualifications

Level 5 NVQ in Occupational Safety and Health

An interview with Ross

What was your background before joining Ellis Whittam?

My career in health and safety began shortly after I graduated from university. I had spent a summer working for a local council, moving between each department and enjoying a range of insight into how an organisation like that functions. Food safety was something that I already felt drawn to beforehand, but as a result of my experiences I eventually chose a health and safety pathway. I pursued an NVQ Level 5 in Occupational Safety and Health, and never looked back. Prior to my current position, I was undertaking a project for a consultancy firm. This was a major infrastructure upgrade and expansion project based in the North West. Then, six years ago, I joined Ellis Whittam, and continue to serve to this day as Principal Health & Safety Consultant. I’ve picked up a range of specialisms and areas of interest during my studies and time in the field, but I’d say the standouts are construction, manufacturing and education.

What does your role at Ellis Whittam entail?

My role primarily involves dealing with clients and providing the best service possible. I support clients across all sectors and have built up a really diverse portfolio over the years, from small local charities to large multi-site organisations, so my typical day can be quite varied depending on what sort of client I’m working with. Once my children are sent off to school, the first thing I do is visit my client and gauge how things are going for them. Depending on the situation, I will spend some time assessing how we can best assist them and add value to the service they’re receiving. I’ll also adapt my approach according to each client; I’m happy to take a less formal stance in some settings, as this can work wonders with particular clients, but I’m equally prepared to be direct and even forceful if I feel it’s necessary. It totally depends.

Which aspect of the role do you enjoy the most, and which do you find most challenging?

I thoroughly enjoy my work, but there are two aspects in particular that bring me great pleasure and a sense of achievement. Firstly, when I’ve been working closely with a client for a period of time and eventually see them improve safety standards, engage their workforce and present tangible improvements in safety culture and practices, that always feels like a major victory. Secondly, the collaborative culture at Ellis Whittam and my relationship with my colleagues is something I enjoy greatly. I really enjoy working closely with other professionals and offering my input on various projects wherever I can. Between us, there’s not much we can’t tackle or much we haven’t seen before! That said, the role certainly comes with its challenges, and relationship management can definitely be one of those. We support many clients, all of whom are unique in their own way, and you have to be very quick to assess characters and moods in order to be successful in your approach.

Can you share any achievements or success stories?

There was one client in particular who I worked with several years ago. At the start of our relationship, I left feeling extremely concerned about safety management on the site and how they would go about things. I worked with the client on an action plan we had devised and revisited the client this year, and was extremely pleased to find that a great deal of effort had been made to improve their working environment. I felt it was clear that they had taken heed of my advice and it’s incidences like this that really make the job worthwhile and solidify why we do what we do.

What advice would you give to employers?

A lack of record keeping is the most common mistake I see employers make. To put it bluntly, health and safety management systems rely on evidence, and regulators will often judge companies solely on this. I’ve lost count of how many clients I’ve seen who have really strong working practices but fail to record them, and as a result are unable to defend their corner effectively. The best advice I can give is to make sure that adequate resources are allocated for proper health and safety practices and record keeping. The costs will be far worse if you don’t.

How would you best describe Ellis Whittam’s support, and what makes it unique?

Quite simply, Ellis Whittam offers a far more personal service than the vast majority of others out there. In our case, the consultant actually gets to know the business itself and doesn’t just pigeon-hole it into a particular group based on its sector, industry, company size and so on. We treat each business as if it is unique, which of course it is, and tailor our approach accordingly. I truly believe that this allows the consultant to dig into the framework of the business and really get to see the ins and outs of it. As a result, they will invariably deliver a higher quality service.

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