Vincent Theobald-Vega studied Forestry (BSc, Bangor
) and Biological Computation (MSc, York
), before joining the HSE
in October 1989. He was based in the Newcastle-upon-Tyne ‘Area Office’ and assigned to an Agriculture Group. During this time he learnt the basics of being an Inspector and obtained his Postgraduate Diploma (Aston
). Vincent also undertook prosecutions, presenting the cases himself instead of using a solicitor. This was unusual for an Agriculture Inspector at that time.
Working for the HSE
Vincent was then relocated (late 1991) to the HSE Field Operations Division
Headquarters in Bootle, Liverpool. There he was the only general Inspector on the FOCUS computerisation project. His role included user systems analysis and design (including some prototyping), and developing user documentation for the system. Being in headquarters Vincent was also able to work alongside the staff of other specialist units. This included: the Asbestos Licensing Unit; the Accident Prevention and Advisory Unit; and the HQ legal team.
In 1994, Vincent was again relocated to the field and was stationed in the Bristol Office. This time he was placed in a Construction team. His responsibilities included: construction activities and asbestos removal work for over five local authority areas; industrial radiography over three counties; and fairgrounds over most of two counties.
Vincent was involved in the introduction of auditing to the general inspection teams (previously only inspections and investigations had been undertaken). The team also promoted the following key issues.
- Wet asbestos removal methods (at the time when most removal was still done dry).
- New safer methods for working at height (that have now become universal) including the use of fall arrest netting.
Key prosecutions taken in this period included several asbestos-related incidents. Vincent was involved in the first prosecution to lead directly to the imprisonment under health and safety law. This has since become reasonably common. Once again, Vincent presented all his own cases, including defended cases (one was defended by two Barristers). On one occasion, Vincent was ‘given leave’ to directly brief a Barrister for a Crown Court hearing. This means no solicitor was involved, so this required written permission from the Lord Chancellor’s Office.
In 1999, Vincent left the HSE for Newcastle University
as an Assistant University Safety Officer. He worked in a small team (4 specialists and 2 support staff), providing the universities professional health and safety services. Vincent added new skills to his portfolio and started had a significant impact on the University management systems.
In 2002, the job of Head of Safety became available and was advertised nationally. Vincent got the post, and over the following 10 years proceeded to influence the University management. The team was expanded and added commercial services. Vincent also made a significant contribution to the national University Safety and Health Association
(USHA). In April 2007 he organised USHA’s annual general conference on top of his full time day job.
In addition to a large amount of study to add to the complex role demands, Vincent also undertook further training. This included training as a lecturer, trainer and teacher of trainers, both internal to the University (to small groups) and externally. Eventually this included undertaking the Leeds Metropolitan University
part time Cert Ed (LLS) course delivered by Newcastle College.
Safety 4 HEd
In 2012 Vincent left Newcastle University to start working full time as a consultant. Safety 4 HEd (named as ‘Safety for Higher Education’) was established. It had originally been a collaboration between four former university safety heads. The intent was to provide health and safety support services to Universities. This was to aid the sector by providing improved depth and service resilience (especially for small teams). Since then, commercial necessities have led our company to open up services to a much wider range of clients. Universities and research and teaching companies are still the largest part of the client base.
Vincent – The Award Winning Expert Witness
In 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 Vincent has won awards for the excellence of service from both National and International bodies. For fuller details of the awards please see the awards page