HSES Grad - The First Five Months

John talks us through his introduction to the HSES graduate scheme with Centrica

John Greenbank

The introduction to the new Health, Safety, Environment and Security graduate scheme (2013 onwards) was undoubtedly one of the most memorable experiences I will ever have.

Unlike any other graduate programme in Centrica, HSES graduates are given the opportunity to spend the first 16 months of their career visiting Centrica assets, offices and employees all around the UK (and beyond). The purpose of this is to get a real insight into how health, safety, environment and security are integrated into the Centrica business, network with employees all around the company, and begin to understand the risks associated with working in the energy industry.

Needless to say, the trip was an eye opener! Reading about how gas is extracted from the North Sea is one thing, but to visit an offshore platform, meet the guys drilling new wells and see the process of gas extraction, really brings home the challenges of providing energy to the UK. After visiting the platform, and the plant where the gas is processed, I also got to spend some time at a couple of Centrica’s power stations and witness the gas being used to drive electricity generation in open and combined cycle gas turbine power stations. The journey didn’t end there though; next stop was British Gas, visiting engineer academies and shadowing residential boiler installations.

The induction period gave most of the graduates an opportunity to face some fears. I’ve never been a fan of heights, so the idea of climbing a 90 meter wind turbine was a little unnerving. However, as with all of these experiences, Centrica put me through the required training to ensure that on the day I had the necessary skills and mind-set to scale the turbine, and even stand on the top!

Left: The view from the WindCat boat looking up at the turbine.

Right: The view of the WindCat looking down from the top of the turbine.

Working at Heights and in Confined Spaces is not the only training that HSES graduates have the opportunity to attend. I have also spent a week gaining my Basic Offshore Safety Induction & Emergency Training (BOSIET) and Minimum Industry Safety Training (MIST) at HOTA in Hull. In October I attended a First Aid course at St John’s Ambulance in Staines, took two weeks to learn about controlling workplace hazards and the management of health and safety on the NEBOSH course, and attended four days of lectures on the Fundamentals of the Oil and Gas Industry.

Being stretched beyond my comfort zone is a state that I have got used to over the past few months. It was an amazing introduction into a business that is constantly fluctuating and having to respond to market changes and political pressures. January has brought with it a more settled, but equally challenging prospect. I am now based in Group HSES for my first placement, looking at HSE risk and control across the business. This involves extracting information from different business units, such as British Gas and Centrica Storage, and creating a centralised HSE risk management system. The first four months of travelling have put me in a great position to start this project, as I already have a background in how these business units operate, and know colleagues who work there.