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Safety scores for Chelsea

Date posted
19 February 2024
Jeremy Waterfield
Estimated reading time
5 minute read

Meeting a couple of health and safety practitioners at different points in their development gave IOSH’s Jeremy Waterfield a glimpse of the future for their profession – very much made, on this occasion, in Chelsea.

They say the best football teams are built on a blend of youth and experience and that’s certainly true at Chelsea FC, the self-styled ‘pride of London’. This isn’t a comment on manager Mauricio Pochettino’s players, but more an observation on the football club’s health and safety team.

Health and safety adviser Stewart Lewis, a Chartered Member of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), the world’s leading chartered professional body for those responsible for safety and health in the workplace, has been with the club for six years now. But he can point to 30-plus years’ experience of working in the profession. To borrow an expression, Stuart may have forgotten more than some newcomers to a career in occupational safety and health (OSH) currently know.

On the other hand, his fellow health and safety adviser, 25-year-old Macauley Quinn, is at an earlier stage of his career. But having already secured IOSH Chartered status, no-one could say he doesn’t yet know much about his chosen career.

Macauley, or ‘Mac’, son of a former IOSH President, Jimmy Quinn, admits to being more of a rugby than a soccer man, but he absolutely loves his role at Chelsea. He also gets very animated when talking about his chosen career in OSH. This was clear on meeting him pitch side at Chelsea’s home, Stamford Bridge, frequently waving his arms about in his Chelsea training jacket to make a point about engaging colleagues or getting total buy-in to a safety culture. In fact, it’s not too long a stretch to imagine his red-haired enthusiasm passionately geeing up the Chelsea players to perform better in a match.

“I must admit,” says Mac, “when I meet people away from work and tell them I work in health and safety, you can see some of them immediately shut down; they see you as the ‘clipboard warrior’ and don’t expect you to be that exciting to talk to.

“I talk to them about the strong people-focus of the job, how I work to help people, to keep them safe and then they generally start to become more interested,” he adds.

“When I tell them about my role at Chelsea then, of course, the interest really spikes, especially if they’re a fan; even if they’re not, talking about football, even in a health and safety context, tends to keep a conversation going.”

Involving people

Mac, a self-confessed ‘people person’, is very clear on the essentially human quality of being an OSH professional: “It’s about involving people in a culture of doing something because it’s the right thing to do, not just meeting the need to be compliant.

“Every day, I’m interacting with lots of different people, learning about what they do, how and why they do it and I like to build lasting relationships. Coming from an academic background of coaching and leadership, I love working with people to get the best out of them, engaging with them and never looking to be a blocker, always starting from the point of ‘yes’.

“It’s about being the facilitator, not seeking to shut things down but encouraging others to do stuff, but to do it safely.

Mac is grateful for the “humble beginnings” of his introduction to health and safety, labouring and sweeping floors on building sites, getting the operatives’ perspective. He says this experience gave him a key insight into which OSH people got the best degree of buy-in from workers, which approaches worked and which didn’t.

One of Mac’s most formative health and safety roles came during his time working on the Birmingham Commonwealth Games, learning so much from the likes of Joe Ryan, Ben Crabbe and Tor Bennett Williams. Describing this time as ‘instrumental’ in his career progression, Mac then praises the “fantastic” backing he had from IOSH members Rob Bullen and Simon Donnelly who saw him through the Chartership process, something he says would have been “a nightmare” if it hadn't been for them.

Then there’s the support he had from his “old man”, Jimmy, a well-known figure in the world of health and safety, who Mac looks upon as a strong role model and first-rate mentor.

“My Dad’s presence has always been a benefit rather than a hindrance to me, giving me that solid and inspirational platform,” says Mac.

Mac is refreshingly excited for the future of his profession: “Now we’re seeing people of my age, the future leaders bursting through. Anyone can get involved and build a lasting, successful career, no matter how old you are or what background you come from. It’s a very inclusive profession.

“My advice to anyone starting out in health and safety would be to not hold back but to know your early limitations, to talk to as many people as you can and be a sponge – be open-minded, always willing to listen and learn, to take things in.”

Mac would certainly recommend new starters joining IOSH, “a fantastic platform for all safety professionals” that provides the “invaluable” resources, structure and network needed to get aspiring professionals up and running.

And in 10 years’ time? Mac most definitely sees himself still in the profession, always learning, always engaging to move towards that ultimate goal: helping create a workplace where people can be safe and can progress, always wanting to do their job as well as they possibly can do.

Massive change

Stewart Lewis, meanwhile, can look back 30 years to when, he says, health and safety, particularly in the construction sector, was often seen as an impediment. He sees a massive change in approach and a new respect for the profession.

“The way work is now undertaken to engage and involve people in safety is the biggest difference,” says Stewart.

“Comparing the two situations really is a case of comparing chalk with cheese and, as a health and safety man, I’m proud of the distance we’ve travelled to get where we are now.

“OSH is now a proper, standout profession offering a genuine career path, rather than something that’s bolted on to keep the regulators happy.

“Younger people entering health and safety these days bring a new, people-oriented approach and it’s this energy and dynamism, this forward-looking outlook that’s going to take our profession where it needs to go.”

With the likes of Macauley Quinn taking on the baton, the future is anything but blue, despite, in this case, the strong Chelsea connection.

Stop press

Macauley Quinn’s OSH career took another exciting turn in early 2024 as he took on the role of Health, Safety and Environment Manager for another blue-chip name from UK sport – England Rugby. Good luck, Mac and we’ll be sure to follow your progress.

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Last updated: 23 February 2024

Jeremy Waterfield

Job role
Content Officer


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