When it comes to Workplace Health and Safety (WHS), having everyone feel safe, supported and encouraged in their work environment has been the number one driving force of Hunter Safety Award’s Young WHS Leader of the Year, Lauren Meldrum.

Having been a part of the Reliance Hexham team since 2006, starting as a Trainee Administration Assistant, Lauren moved on to be the Health, Safety, Environment and Quality Manager for Reliance Hexham until September 2019. Lauren now works as a Consultant at Murray Consulting Solutions in Medowie. 

In her position at Reliance Hexham, Lauren was responsible for looking after the integrated management system, maintaining quality assurance, implementing WHS, environmental practices, information security and ensuring National Association of Testing Authorities’ (NATA) laboratory compliances.

This was Lauren’s second time accepting the Young WHS Leader of the Year Award, having also won in 2017 and named a finalist in 2016.

“I feel so incredibly honoured to accept the award for Young WHS Leader of the Year. Having your achievements acknowledged by your peers is an amazing feeling and to have it done in a public forum such as the Hunter Safety Awards just takes that to the next level,” Lauren said.

Being able to find the right method that works best for your industry and the people within it has been a crucial part of WHS for Lauren at Reliance Hexham.

Physical and emotional security are both equally important, something Lauren believes must become a crucial part of formal WHS training.

“In my experience, people want to feel heard and understood, so developing particular ‘soft’ skills such as empathy and active listening has definitely been helpful for me. These are a key aspect for me when building relationships within the workplace and during the process of positively impacting workplace culture.”

While the textbook ways of WHS are a great starting point, Lauren believes the key to ensuring everyone’s health and safety needs are being met is through emotional actions.

“I work in a very open workplace environment and am very accessible to everyone. I actively encourage  my colleagues to come to me to have an informal, or formal, discussion around any and all issues they’re concerned about.”

“I always follow up and provide feedback so that person knows their contribution is valued.”

Lauren is always looking for ways to learn more about WHS and how this can best be implemented in the industry. She previously participated in the Standards Australia Young Leader Program (2017-2018) and currently has the goal of becoming a committee member for QR-008 Quality Systems.

As well as applying for Young WHS Leader of the Year again in 2020, Lauren is eager to encourage others to step up to the plate and apply too.

“It can seem a bit intimidating when you get the application form and read through all the questions, you may even get feelings of self-doubt,” Lauren explains.

“My advice is back yourself! Honestly, you just need to be proud of what you have accomplished and the positive work that you do. Even if you don’t win, just listing all your hard work down on paper can be a real eye opener for you and your organisation.”

CLICK HERE to enter the 2020 Hunter Safety Awards