RLB’s National Head of Health & Safety, Samantha Mepham talks to Project Safety Journal about how she got into the industry, personal highlights and rising to the challenges of the new Building Safety Act.
I left school at 18 and worked as an administrative assistant at a police training academy. While there I joined and later managed the Criminal Justice Unit, where we helped assess the paperwork from police against Crown Prosecution Service standards. I started studying criminal law and found it interesting. I also got involved with general health and safety issues as a line manager.
When we were notified of closure and I was looking for another position, it coincided with helping my dad, who worked in health and safety himself, study for his NEBOSH (National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health) qualifications. I enjoyed the legal elements of that too, so I applied for a number of health and safety positions and got one at a process manufacturing company.
After eight years in my previous role, and while on maternity leave for the first of my two children, I studied for and became chartered in IOSH (Institution of Occupational Safety and Health) and a registered (at the time) member of the Association for Project Safety (APS).
In 2015, I joined RLB and instantly liked its approach. I joined as a senior consultant and worked my way through a number of different roles before becoming a partner and then national head of health and safety services.
I’m an absolute law geek – I like the way that legislation is written. I like reading it and the debates it creates and the conversations it prompts.
I definitely get a buzz when people see you’re actually there to help them – and not just there to make things safer, but better too. When people understand your values and see where you’re coming from, that feels good.
What have been your personal highlights?
When RLB won the APS Dutyholder of the Year award in 2019 it was really special. We’d narrowly lost out the year before so that was a big moment. But I always feel my biggest success has been building the team I have around me. It took eight years but it’s wonderful to work with such great people.
How are you tackling all the new legislation coming at you?
We knew the Building Safety Act was coming so we’ve been preparing for a few years. Obviously, we didn’t know exactly what it would look like, but we had a pretty good idea. Since it came into force last year, I’ve been heavily involved with what RLB is doing – rewriting our processes, developing new services, ensuring competence is there.
It’s important for everyone to realise the Act isn’t just impacting on health and safety – it impacts the whole industry. So we’ve made sure our cost managers, our project managers, everyone on the technical side are up to speed on the Act and what it means for their delivery.
This is an abridged version of an article that appeared in Project Safety Journal.