Troy Jones

Environmental Health and Safety Consultant (Geography, BA)

Troy Jones, Premier Environmental Services Inc.

After graduating with a BA in Geography from Laurier in 2003, Troy began working with Employment and Social Development Canada in a contract position as a supervisor for the student career centres. Troy secured this job right after graduation by relentlessly applying on the Government of Canada career website until he was asked to compete for a role by completing a written competency test and interview. This supervisor role was a great starting point for Troy to understand the complexity of health and safety as it relates to different jobs and workplaces.

Troy became interested in consulting after discussing the career with a friend who was already working in the field. Troy liked the idea of remaining in the health and safety field and branching out to include more environmentally oriented projects. Troy also liked the overall variety (in clients, projects and challenges) available to consultants. To aid in his pursuit of a consulting career, Troy completed a year-long postgraduate program, Environmental Engineering Applications, through Conestoga College. During this time he obtained a co-op position at an environmental health and safety firm in Toronto. After completing the program, Troy returned to the K-W area and continued with his career at Premier Environmental Services Inc.

Essentially, the role of an environmental health and safety consultant is to assist companies in complying with various regulatory requirements and industry standards. They inspect properties and workplaces to identify existing hazards as well as help create plans to mitigate and eliminate future hazards to both the environment and employees. If the job were to be described in key terms, they would be ‘compliance,’ ‘due diligence,’ ‘project management,’ ‘value’ and ‘communication.’ Compliance and due diligence refer to the underlying role of a consultant, which is to ensure the work they do will result in clients being able to uphold and operate within the relevant environmental or health and safety legislation and prevent future issues. Project management is an important aspect because, as Troy notes, a consultant is hired to provide a service that a company cannot provide internally, so it is important that the project is carried out on time and within a specified budget. Communication is important due to the technical nature of consulting; a consultant must be able to communicate the same information to several different groups who have differing levels of technical knowledge. For example, the regulators such as the Ministry of Labour and Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change normally provide information in very technical terms; however, many clients may not understand the meaning or significance of the information presented. This information must be interpreted to the client in such a way that ensures they fully understand the regulatory implications. Like any professional service, consultants should ensure that the client is comfortable and confident in the value of the service they receive. For example, if a client is dealing with an ongoing health and safety issue related to chemical exposure, it is important to demonstrate to the client that the costs they will incur from fulfilling a consultant’s recommendations will be less than the costs they could incur in the future if they ignore the problem.

Typical day-to-day tasks for a consultant working in the environmental or health and safety field include going to various sites and gathering data and samples, writing reports, developing work plans and proposals, and meeting with clients to discuss plans and potential courses of action. Much of this is done by ensuring projects are on schedule as well as co-ordinating with other experts in the field such as ecologists, planners, architects, and civil engineers. Consultants beginning in the industry will typically begin their career in the field completing onsite work, whereas senior consultants move onto more managerial roles and do more of the business development work. Due to the customer-service aspect of the position, consultants must have some flexibility in their schedules in order to meet a client’s needs and travel to sites both near and far. In some cases, travelling to a site may be a little more time-consuming than a quick car ride. Troy’s firm has recently worked on projects in several different countries such as the Netherlands, Bolivia and Japan. In such cases, the ability to speak another language would be an asset to those interested in the career. While the consulting industry is private, those with similar employment and training background to consultants also work in the public sector with organizations such as the provincial or federal government, municipalities, or conservation authorities, or even universities.

Troy recommends that anyone looking to enter the field should job shadow someone with an established consulting career as it is the best way to gain a holistic perspective of the role. Troy also recommends that future consultants should strive to obtain a professional certification. For example, Troy is a Canadian Registered Safety Professional (CRSP). This certification is a nationally recognized health and safety certification and those looking to complete this certification must have worked for at least three years at the professional level in the occupational health and safety field. He also recommends that those looking into a potential consulting career begin their research during their undergraduate degree to narrow down the specifics in the field that are of most interest to them such as environmental law, ergonomics, toxicology, risk management or occupational hygiene. Publications from the Board of Canadian Registered Safety Professionals (BCRSP), Association of Professional Geoscientists of Ontario (APGO) and Professional Engineers of Ontario (PEO) are also good reading for those looking to enter the field. Many professionals in the industry belong to these organizations and they provide insight into current industry standards and trends.

Troy initially thought that an arts degree could be potentially limiting to his career prospects, but in the end it has actually proved to be very beneficial as he feels he uses many of the communication and writing skills taught to arts grads on a daily basis. Troy’s final words of advice: “Think about your career as the opportunity to solve problems that you are passionate about. To me, that is career fulfilment.”