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Marcin Slomka: Facilities and Centre Manager - Centre for Commercial Law Studies (CCLS).

Can you please tell us a bit about yourself and your role at QMUL?Marcin Slomka

I am a Workplace and Facilities Management professional with a keen interest in the higher education sector. I worked at two different London universities before joining QMUL in March this year as the Facilities and Centre Manager at the Centre for Commercial Law Studies based in Lincoln’s Inn Fields. What I find really interesting and challenging about my current role is that for the first time I am not placed within the Estates and Facilities department, instead working directly for the School of Law. This arrangement, despite certain limitations, has given me a lot of opportunity to focus on improving the work environment for our students and staff.

What are you working on right now?

I aim to ensure not only health and safety but also wellbeing of our building users. In order to offer a healthy addition to the workplace, I have recently installed a stand up height adjustable workstation, available on a first-come, first-served basis to those who want to break up the long sedentary stretches of the working day. My other initiative, loosely related to Health & Safety, is the drive to make our building as environment-friendly as possible. I have signed up our Centre to the NUS Coffee Cup Campaign and pledged to set a significant reduction in disposable coffee cup use. The cost savings made this way have allowed us to offer reusable ‘KeepCups’ to staff as an alternative. I am also replacing plastic water cooler cups with recyclable paper cones and will soon be installing new hot drink machines supplied with fully biodegradable tea and coffee pods.

What are the challenges you face within your role and how do you tackle them, in relation to H&S?

Because the Lincoln’s Inn Fields site is away from other QMUL campuses, it is very important that our local arrangements are robust and reliable in an emergency situation. Thankfully, a lot of our staff are very Health & Safety-conscious and would actively volunteer to become First Aiders, Mental Health First Aiders, or Fire Marshals. I also think that having Health & Safety Advisers dedicated to each faculty is a great idea that should be replicated by other educational institutions.

What do you get up to when you’re not at Queen Mary?

I take my 2-year old son for long walks around beautiful South East London parks. I like to sample new dishes from international street food trucks and hunt for places serving exceptional British ‘pub grub’. I still can’t believe I only discovered scotch eggs a few years ago! 

 

George Elia: Senior Scientific Officer and Tissue Bank Assistant, at Tumour Biology, Barts Cancer Institute.

Can you pleasGeorge Eliae tell us a bit about yourself and your role at QMUL?

I have been a Histopathology technician for 46 years. I began my career at the Royal College of Surgeons, where I worked in dental sciences working with monkeys and hamsters. Following this, I moved to the histology lab, where I mainly carried out X-rays and photography for publications and histology. In this time, I gained a Fellowship in Histology, and moved to Cancer Research UK for 24 years where I was in charge of the Histology lab. This sparked my passion for histology, which includes making antibodies too, which I find very satisfying as I enjoy helping people with their research. I’ve been at QMUL for 9 years now, where I now manage the Histology lab based in Charterhouse Square.

What are you working on right now?

My main role is to do the work required for research, that others cannot do, for both QMUL and  non-QMUL research institutions. We are able to do this, as we have the equipment and skills available that not everyone has. We provide a service where we cut sections of tissue (e.g. human or mice) and stain them so that they can be viewed under a microscope. We also stain with  antibodies where required. A lot of our work helps with cancer research – where our service is used currently for those researching cures for breast cancer.

What are the challenges you face within your role and how do you tackle them, in relation to H&S?

I think the main challenge when managing any lab, is to manage everyone’s health and safety. With this work in particular, it is key to manage our solvent usage, as a lot is required for our processing machines. This means putting procedures in place to ensure that the process works well from when it comes in, to when it leaves the lab as waste. Working with human tissue is also a big threat, due to the risk of Hepatitis B, HIV and Hepatitis C. However, with good training, appropriate screening procedures and internal procedural controls, we are able to manage this well.

What do you get up to when you’re not at Queen Mary?

I enjoy spending time with family, sea fishing, gardening and DIY when I’m at home. I also have a passion for cultural holidays, as I really enjoy eating out and trying the local cuisine. My favourite destination so far has been Malaysia, which I would highly recommend to anyone visiting East Asia – make sure to visit the markets if you do go.

 

Dr. Gavin Craig, Bart’s Cancer Institute: Deputy Principal Laboratory Manager and Safety Co-ordinator.

Can you please tell us a bit about yourself and your role at QMUL?

After obtaining a PhD in developmental biology at Warwick University, I have undertaken a few different post-docs before moving to King’s College London as Deputy Lab Manager for six years. I then joined QMUL as Lab Manager over four years ago, and moved up to also be the Deputy BCI Principal Lab Manager and Institute Safety Co-ordinator two and a half years ago, and I also manage the new Cryostorage Facility at Charterhouse Square. At the Centre for Cancer and Inflammation I manage the laboratories, equipment, staff inductions/training and budgets.

What are you working on right now?

My centre researches the links between cancer and inflammation, studying the microenvironment which surrounds the cancer cells, as well as the cancer cells themselves. We are developing a 3D model of ovarian cancer, where we are attempting to make a human cancer model in gels that has all the relevant cell components to accurately reflect the cancer and its surrounding microenvironment. This exciting work is through the CANBUILD project, which we presented at the Royal Society Summer Exhibition in 2016. Click here for more on the CANBUILD project, led by Professor Fran Balkwill.

As safety coordinator, I am currently working on improving processes and using MySafety to streamline and standardise our inspections and risk assessments. I have just worked on a large risk assessment to cover all general lab work at the BCI, which has been uploaded on MySafety.

What are the challenges you face within your role and how do you tackle them, in relation to H&S?

I think the biggest challenge is trying to get people to buy into Health and Safety, since it can be seen to vastly impact their work through creating extra obstacles for them to overcome. My aim is to promote the idea that we are managing safety in the best interests of all members of staff and students and not trying to restrict the work that is carried out here, luckily the vast majority do understand this. I am also trying to put more systems in place to improve H&S by embracing new technology to make it easier for everyone to be involved.    

You received an award at our annual Health & Safety Event this year, can you tell us more?

We received a Silver award last year for our Institute, and this year we received a SafeProject award which was for all the team involved in delivering the Charterhouse Square Cryostorage Facility. We are really proud of our achievements and I think the awards ceremony is an excellent thing to have, as it makes people feel valued for their hard work.  

What do you get up to when you’re not at Queen Mary?

I like painting, gardening and watching the rugby, but as a family we love to go to the seaside along the South Coast or exploring in the New Forest. We love to go on boat-trips, but above all my children love bike rides and horse-riding.

Is there anything else you would like to tell our readers?

I would also like to let everyone know that I am a Mental Health First Aider, and my door is always open. I think it is a very good initiative that is run by QMUL, as I was not familiar with it before, and since attending the Mental Health First Aid course, I have learnt a lot. It has helped me support others at work, as well as out of work, and I encourage anyone to get support if it is needed as it really does help make a change. I also loved the general first aid course, run by Suzanne Mason who has done an excellent job at teaching us the vital skills we need to save lives. If you can, I strongly encourage you to look into these courses, as they are incredibly useful.

I would like to remind everyone to keep their training up to date, it is important as it helps you gain the knowledge you need to keep yourself, others and your research safe

Dr. Steven Coppen, Deputy Institute Manager and Safety Coordinator at the William Harvey Research Institute in Charterhouse Square. 

Can you please tell us a bit about yourself and your role at QMUL?

After being a postdoc working in the cardiovascular field for 12 years, I joined QMUL in 2007 as a Lab Manager in the William Harvey Research Institute. Initially I was still carrying out some research (cell transplantation into the heart) but I put myself forward to be the H&S coordinator for the WHRI and gradually became more involved in the workings of the Institute and then in 2015 I took up my current role of William Harvey Deputy Institute Manager. The WHRI has three main research themes, Cardiovascular, Endocrinology and Inflammation and now has over 530 clinicians, scientists and PhD students which requires significant administrative support. However, still being the H&S coordinator means that I still get the chance to go into to the labs and see the science even if I do not actively participate any more.

What are the challenges you face within your role and how do you tackle them, in relation to H&S?

Keeping people interested and motivated about Health & Safety is a big challenge. It’s all about bringing people along with you rather the dictating to them what they should do. I try to make sure I am always approachable and will always take the time to discuss people’s H&S issues. Explaining why something needs to be done and then helping to come up with solutions always seems to help people action requests and comply with H&S policies & procedures.

You received an award at our annual Health & Safety Event this year, can you tell us more?

Receiving the H&S Honour Award was indeed a great honour for me. It was extremely gratifying to be recognised for the work I have put into H&S over the last 10 years but I have to thank everyone around me who always respond positively and helped to improve the H&S culture here at the WHRI and Charterhouse Square Campus. It is working together that always brings the best results as exemplified by the new cryostore here at Charterhouse Square, a state of the art facility with H&S being the focus of its design.

What are you working on right now?

We are eagerly awaiting the results of the William Harvey Health & Safety Audit and are ready to action any points that are raised. I have to say that this was a pain free process carried out in a professional, yet friendly manner by the HSD Audit team.

What do you get up to when you’re not at Queen Mary?

I am a keen gardener and find gardening very relaxing. I enjoy photography and I have been trying to learn how to take better pictures for the last year or so, particularly of wildlife, though I usually have to settle for our two dogs.

James Martin, Campus Maintenance Manager (Mile End)

Can you please tell us a bit about yourself and your role at QMUL?

I have a background in higher education, as previous to joining Queen Mary, I had a similar role at Kings College London. I liked the challenges that Queen Mary offered and so joined in November 2014, starting off as Campus Manager for Residences in Mile End. Six months in I moved over to Charterhouse Square to drive change as Campus Maintenance Manager. In 2017, I moved back to Mile End continuing my role as Campus Maintenance Manager, where I manage a team of 19 people, all working to provide customer focused delivery. I pretty much manage everything that goes on campus from a maintenance/infrastructure point of view.

What are the challenges you face within your role and how do you tackle them, in relation to H&S?

I think the biggest challenge is the amount of work there is to tackle. Recently I was away on annual leave for two weeks and returned to 2300 emails. However, I do love a challenge, and I think the most important thing is that everyone comes to work and goes home safely.

My main goal is to implement positive change, and treat everyone at Queen Mary as my customers, to whom I aim to provide a proactive service delivery. I am working hard to engage with my customers, by getting to know them personally so I can understand their needs and how best to meet them. It is important to me that our staff, colleagues and students have a voice and feel that they can productively liaise with Estates & Facilities.

What are you working on right now?

Driving standardisation of statutory documents to ensure robust record keeping and being proactive in driving the pre-planned preventative maintenance programme forward. I am also ensuring we are compliant with all relevant H&S regulations, for example we are currently working on our fire prevention strategies.

I am excited to announce that I will soon be moving into the role of Compliance Manager in Estates and Facilities. I look forward to the challenges that my new role will involve, as I will have more power to drive change and instil a positive health and safety culture across QMUL.   

What do you get up to when you’re not at Queen Mary?

When I’m not on one of my two motorcycles, I can be found in the gym. I thoroughly recommend the personal trainer at QMotion, who has helped me lose 5 stones in 8 months, through sensible dieting and regular exercise.

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