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My Journey Into Health and Safety – Orlagh Kenny

Hi, my name is Orlagh, and I am a Safety Advisor with RT Group!

Working as part of a broader team in challenging, fast-paced and dynamic environments has been a thread throughout my career, and my experience with RT Group so far has only continued that trend.

Upon completing a degree in Arts Management in 2016, I began a career in events, working for a community-based events organisation called Happenings as well as some of Ireland’s leading cultural arts festivals such as the International Literature Festival, St. Patrick’s Festival, The Dublin Fringe Festival and Electric Picnic.

While my roles have varied from invigilating art galleries to advancing artists accreditation for festivals or managing hundreds of volunteers, it was here that I had my first foray with the glamorous world of H&S as I was tasked with drafting up event management plans, risk assessments, traffic management plans; ensuring the safety of attendees was the area I always gravitated towards no matter what role I ended up in.

Moving on from a focus on festivals, I moved to a company called Cogs & Marvel, a creative agency based in Dublin. This role gave me the opportunity to work alongside SLUA, an Irish health & safety consultancy firm, to manage all aspects of the H&S.

Spurred on by my positive experiences with H&S, in 2020, I enrolled in a part-time MSc in Emergency Management. A significant focus of the course was to teach us all aspects of Crisis / Risk Management, Health and Safety through health and safety legislation, guidelines, and protocols, with a big focus on how to effectively manage risk through strategy and business continuity management as well as physical large-scale events and crowds.

During this time, hearing the constant whispers from friends about the similarities between event production and film/TV production, my interest was piqued, and I went on to complete a TV Production Course and started to do some work on some Irish shows as a production runner and a trainee assistant director. This led me to take up the Health and Safety Supervisor role with Disney on the output of MoonKnight, which was filmed in Budapest, Hungary for 8 months. As we filmed throughout the height of the pandemic, a primary element of my role was charged with managing all aspects of compliance regarding COVID-19 on set, liaising with the producers and production team daily to ensure we were following government and industry guidelines and ensuring that all members of cast and crew felt safe and supported coming to work. This still stands as the highlight of my career so far, not just because it was my first foray into the H&S world within the industry, let alone my first job overseas, but because we managed to complete the shoot all the while navigating a challenging landscape (including three weeks filming in the Jordanian desert), never jeopardising the health & safety of the cast and crew. From here, Disney sent me to work on Willow in Wales and then moved me over to London, where I worked on several Lucas Film, Marvel, and Disney productions, from TV series to large-scale film productions, moving up the rank to Health & Safety Manager.

Upon completing my MSc, I decided to leap from Disney to RT Group. They have a considerable portfolio of work within the television industry and a vast risk management component to their business, working in high-risk environments worldwide. Every day with RT Group is different. Looking at my calendar from the last few weeks alone, I’ve been on a H&S site visit on a farm in Birmingham, assisted on a test rig of a wire-walker in York, carried out crisis management/travel awareness training and next week will be heading up to Scotland for a few days of work in the Highlands. When not out on the road, I spend my day reviewing risk assessments and documents such as crisis management plans, travel safety briefs and high-risk documents.

I enjoy a fast-paced work environment where problem-solving is utilised to make sound, thoughtful decisions in high-pressure situations. I believe the best jobs provide settings where you can constantly learn and grow in your professional abilities, confidence, and versatility. RT Group has proven to be able to offer this to me through working on a vast range of productions. I’ve already come across scenarios and unique situations that I could never have imagined and ones you certainly cannot learn in a classroom. Despite loving the role’s day-to-day, another massive plus over the past 2 months has been meeting the team here and learning from everyone’s unique experiences. We all come from varying different backgrounds, and with that comes a wealth of knowledge; it creates a fun and dynamic workplace to go into each day! Another plus is having the gorgeous surrounds of Kingston to wander through each day – having lunch on the banks of the Thames has become one of my favourite parts of the week.

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