01 February by Vicky Kenrick


As the world becomes smaller and businesses continue to increase their operations overseas, it is vital that Health & Safety standards are adhered to across the company’s global operation.

At Allen & York, specialist Health & Safety recruitment consultancy, we have seen a rise over the last 10 years in global health and safety positions, as international businesses are required to bring all their operations up to corporate standards.

So, what makes a good Global Health & Safety Director?

Global business is well aware of the damage that can be inflicted to both human lives and the environment when health and safety corners are cut or standards are not rigorously observed.  The protection of employees is always high on any business agenda and when operating across multiple global sites, this is brought into strong focus.

Many senior health & safety professionals have been inspired to pursue a career in safety through personal experience; Andrew Sharman, Vice Chairman of the Board of IOSH, on his website comments that; “More than 15 years ago, an accident involving an upended bucket of hydrochloric acid catalyzed an epiphany that caused him to rethink his engineering career and see workplace safety and risk management from a new perspective.”  

Like Andrew, many senior safety professionals have come via an engineering background, construction or manufacturing and have more often than not experienced an industrial accident which inspired them to change direction and dedicate themselves to a career which protects the workforce and avoids this type of incident happening again.  

As such the profile of the Global Health & Safety Director has to encompass everything from passionate safety advocate, regulatory expert, inspirational leader and communications guru.

Communication, leadership, business acumen and strategic planning are vital skills for the Health & Safety Director. I know this is often stated on job adverts, but in this instance these skills are crucial.  Health and Safety standards have to receive buy-in from board level to factory floor, otherwise they are not going to carry any weight or be implemented.  

However, cultural sensitivity and change management are also important skills for the Global expert; this coupled with an understanding that not all countries are going to run in exactly the same way as your HQ is important. 

A good example of this is Siemens.  They are headquartered in Germany and have operations all over the world, their Head of Environmental Protection, Health Management and Safety, Dr Ralf Franke in a recent interview comments that; One needs to be careful not to overshoot the mark by sticking to the principle of “What’s best for Germany is best for the world.” 

He gives the example of people travelling to work in India on top of the train. This is a cultural norm, a dangerous one, as in Mumbai alone, ten people die as a result of falling off a train every day, but a way of life if you’re living in India.  However, he goes on to say that Siemens’ goal is to “ensure the fulfilment of a global set of minimum standards. But that doesn’t mean simply implementing German standards across the board.”  In other words, there has to be an element of cultural sensitivity, with a belief that global business will influence change more broadly, as Dr Franke says; “There is a long path ahead of us, and it looks completely different in each area of our business.”

Allen & York are always interested to speak to senior health and professionals and are currently recruiting for senior global positions in leading corporate organisations.  Get in touch with us to discuss your requirements and/or browse our website for all our health and safety job opportunities.

We are currently recruiting for a number of senior positions, to discuss these or any other  opportunities, please contact our Health & Safety Team Leader, Gemma Dickinson at