Helen Edwards is the lead safety representative and Prospect union safety rep at Sellafield Limited. In a whistle-stop tour, let’s find out why her role is so important …
Sellafield. One of the biggest, most complex and congested industrial sites in Europe. With 13,000 employees, plus visiting contractors, the site has its own train station, fire station and police force – the Civil Nuclear Constabulary.
What’s more, it’s home to the world’s largest stockpile of plutonium and untreated nuclear waste. Sellafield has recently started hazard reduction in legacy storage, which involves cutting holes in 60-year old silos and retrieving waste from ponds. And there’s new nuclear waste arriving all the time.
With such a big and diverse site, keeping everyone safe and well is a real challenge. Being a safety rep at Sellafield means addressing everything from healthy offices, to working at height, to – you guessed it – handling nuclear waste.
Helen knows safety at Sellafield inside out – she’s worked there since the 1980s. And she takes her job incredibly seriously: “It’s paramount that our workforce has a safe and healthy working environment – it’s my number one priority.”
Today, Helen is at the helm of a team of 250 safety reps from three recognised unions across the company – and she recruits, trains and mentors them all. Her role involves everything from running drop-in sessions, themed safety days and safety training courses to creating practical resources to help keep everyone safe at Sellafield.
It didn’t surprise anyone when in 2016 Helen was chosen from more than 10,000 safety reps to be the TUC’s safety rep of the year.