Tor lives his dream combining passion and safety advocacy at Commonwealth Games
With thousands of athletes representing 72 nations and territories in 19 different sports, and an estimated global viewing audience of 1.5 billion, staging the XXII Commonwealth Games is no small task. But for Tor Bennett Williams, it’s a dream come true. He’s not only an athlete but has for the past 12 months been part of the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) team preparing for the Games, taking place in Birmingham, UK, from 28 July to 08 August.
For talented runner Tor, this is a dream job combining his passions for athletics and OSH. And he’s achieved his own ‘gold medal’ in the build-up – IOSH Chartered status.
Getting set for the Games during the countdown, 24-year-old Tor has been looking after non-competition sites. This includes hotels for competitors and guests, warehouses and transport depots as well as the athletes’ training venues. He also has responsibility for training and corporate inductions – making him the ‘face’ of OSH – along with duties ranging from risk assessments to supporting workers’ wellbeing.
“It’s about looking after the people behind the scenes, and I’ve absolutely loved it. Athletics is something that’s very personal and close to my heart,” said Tor, who has represented the University of Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Bilston Athletics Club, and Birchfield Harriers at the 400 metres.
As the Games begin, his attention has switched to monitoring, site inspections and providing guidance if required.
“The hard work will be done by then,” said Tor, who has another reason to be excited – his partner, Laura Zialor, is competing in the high jump for England.
While Tor’s been into sports since school, he developed an interest in OSH after graduating in Environmental Science in summer 2019. With two graduate offers to choose from, he picked an environmental health and safety internship with a healthcare company.
“I really enjoyed the health and safety aspect and fell in love with OSH,” said Tor, who took a level 6 diploma and IOSH’s Managing Safely® course to build his skills and qualifications.
He landed a role in health, safety and environmental compliance with a paper manufacturing company and joined IOSH as an Associate Member.
Tor was attracted by the “interactive content and global credentials” of the Institution, which is also an accredited organisation of the Commonwealth.
Keen to progress, he moved to Technical and then Graduate level in August 2021.
“I’m always pushing to do other things and thinking how far I can get,” he said. The Wolverhampton-born Tor’s next ambition is Chartered Membership, a ‘Gold medal’ status. Joining the Commonwealth Games team gave him both belief and inspiration. Tor said: “My manager, Joe Ryan, and colleague, Ben Crabb, were both eyeing up Chartered status and encouraged me to go for it, too. They said we’ll do it as a team.” The trio took advantage of the IOSH Mentoring programme, with the IOSH President (now Immediate Past President) Jimmy Quinn guiding them through the process.
“Jimmy said the time period we wanted to do it in wasn’t going to be easy but, if we put in the work, we could do it,” said Tor.
“We sat down most weeks as a team and worked through the criteria. I used the IOSH YouTube channel a lot.
Everything I needed to help me was online.” It took Tor just six months to achieve Chartered status at the age of 23 – and he literally screamed when he saw IOSH’s ‘congratulations’ email pop up.