Louise Keys

Health and Safety Trainer/Adviser

"I want everyone, without exception to come home safely from their chosen place of work and to take responsibility for the safety and health of themselves and others they encounter."

What led you to work at PETA?

I am an experienced health and safety manager with experience in some relatively high-risk workplaces who has now turned to teaching her favourite subjects. I am also a Europhile having lived in France and Belgium for many years and having studied for a European Business degree many moons ago.

I have attended training courses with PETA in the recent past, so I knew the organisation before I applied. All my training experiences with PETA had been good and I remembered that one of the trainers, Ben, had a very dynamic teaching style and that memory inspired me to give teaching a go. I consequently took a Train the Trainer course whilst working in preparation for my move.

What is your role at PETA and what drives you to do what you do?

I am a H&S Trainer/Adviser, delivering all the scheduled health and safety courses that PETA offers, as well as bespoke training. I also do a bit of consulting for individual companies, where I will visit businesses and advise them on the health, safety and environmental needs, preparing health and safety management systems and processes for them as needed.

I believe that health and safety training will keep people safe and prevent them from having accidents as it educates and raises awareness of the risks being taken. I want to inspire learners to appreciate the need to introduce proportionate and sensible health and safety into the workplace, as the consequences if it goes wrong can be devastating both from a personal perspective and a corporate perspective. Good health, safety and environmental knowledge and understanding improves employees’ wellbeing and the safety of customers and contractors.

What knowledge or experience do you draw upon for your role?

I have 20 years of practical health and safety experience working as a health and safety adviser/manager initially for construction companies and latterly a large local zoo based in Hampshire, where I ensured the implementation of a robust health and safety management system to keep animals, employees and guests safe. Emergency procedures training without an explanation of what to do in the event of an animal escape is not worth listening to.

I have been a Chartered Member of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (CMIOSH) for over 12 years, so I draw upon all the technical and managerial experience that I’ve gained and apply it within this role. I often use examples from my previous roles when teaching to illustrate points – protecting contractors from tigers when they are required to work in their enclosure is my favourite permit to work example. Going from an industry health and safety role to a teaching one is a relatively easy transition as you can take your accrued knowledge and apply it in the classroom. Many of the learners are at the coal face of safety in the workplace so appreciate my hands on experience. My knowledge can be adapted for relevance and having that hands-on experience to draw upon keeps my lectures lively and fun. Anyone for tea with the tiger?

I have completed several NEBOSH qualifications which enables me to confidently embed many aspects of fire, health, safety, wellbeing and environment management within the workplace. Additionally, I co-wrote the latest version of the HSE’s official guidance on health and safety in zoos HSG295.

How do you approach your role on a day-to-day basis? What skills are required?

I am constantly learning how to teach as this is not my primary skill. I appreciate observing others and where applicable drawing on their methodology. I complete a lot of H&S CPD through my trade association the Institute of Occupational Health and Safety (IOSH) as this is vital to remaining up to date with legislation changes and new and upcoming hazards and control methods. I also am keen on adopting courses onto Moodle and using it to its full potential.

To be a good teacher you need to have patience, a passion for your subject and to be well prepared at all times. Health, safety and the environmental legislation changes constantly so you need to keep up to date with the industry to ensure your teaching is current and accurate.

I spend time updating our suite of courses as and when things change to keep them current, and I also put a lot of preparation into planning and delivering bespoke training courses in order to make them relevant for the individual businesses and ensure the content is valuable and useful to them.

What is your teaching style?

I prefer to encourage my learners to teach themselves through group work or private investigation. I like to set them micro subjects to research and then we discuss the findings in a large group.

What are you passionate about outside of work?

I am passionate about the environment and the beauty of countryside. I am keen on creating a sustainable life for myself and others. I love travelling and visiting wilderness areas both here in the UK and abroad. My favourite places include Australia, New Zealand and the USA to name a few. I lived in Europe for a few years; I am fluent in French and worked for France’s largest telecoms company, which was a great experience.

What are your personal values, and what is important to you?

I want everyone, without exception to come home safely from their chosen place of work and to take responsibility for the safety and health of themselves and others they encounter. We can do so much to improve our own welfare at work if we choose to do so. I also want to do that without damaging the planet.

I love work and I also love life so I want to give it my all and share that passion with those who can make a difference for themselves and those they are responsible for. If we all do our part we can minimise the damage to the planet and ensure people have a safe and happy work life.