Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Working lives

Your career : Careers clinic

Mike Stott, 44, is safety and environment manager with the O'Rourke Group.

Route to the job

I completed a degree in civil engineering at Birmingham University in 1977 and joined Costain as a junior engineer. My first job was building hangars on an airfield in East Anglia. I then moved to RAF Wattisham in Suffolk, where the firm was employed to resurface runways. I stayed with Costain for 10 years, during which time I spent a design year with Maddocks & Lusher in Ipswich. I also worked on several overseas projects. These included building a jetty for a cement works in Greece, constructing a huge cement works and military training camp in Oman, and working on a water distribution network in Nigeria.

I moved from Costain to Balfour Beatty, joining the firm as a subagent and working on a number of diverse projects - from more hangars in East Anglia, to Woolwich prison. I also spent 10 years with Balfour Beatty, moving across gradually from straight forward civil engineering to safety related work.

By the time I left to join O'Rourke, five years ago, my job was split about fifty-fifty between engineering and safety.


I applied for my current job after seeing it advertised in NCE. My expectations were to be able to adapt the procedures and good management systems I had helped devise at Balfour Beatty to suit the requirements of O'Rourke. I wanted to be able match the safety statistics we had achieved on the Second Severn Crossing approach roads contract, where we had just one reported accident in a year - a period equivalent to 750,000 man hours.

The reality

I would say I am achieving what the company wanted me to do. I have helped to create a safe environment and to reduce the number of accidents by a factor of two and a half.

My actual job description covers many things, from site inspection to policy and procedure, accident investigation to compiling newsletters. I am probably out of the office 50% of the time, overseeing works on site and supervising a team of 10 safety advisors who are based throughout the country.

It is extremely satisfying to get to the end of the month knowing that our safety record remains strong - and that this has been achieved through good management rather than cost.


If you have quality construction related experience and a genuine ability to communicate, then a career in safety management is a real option. Working in this area is very satisfying as it combines civil engineering with the human side of things - you are actively prolonging the skills and working llives of colleagues.

As an introduction, you could try the Construction Industry Training Board five day course, which provides a good grounding in safety issues. To become a safety officer, you will also need to complete the National Examination Board in Occupational Safety & Health general certificate.

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Please note comments made online may also be published in the print edition of New Civil Engineer. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.