Sarah Dufie Sarpong: An inspirational leader passionately driven to introducing new Health and Safety initiatives

19 September 2016

Sarah Dufie Sarpong is the Head of Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) at MRC Unit The Gambia (MRCG). She has over six years’ experience in Health and Safety Management and over eight years’ experience in Quality Assurance Management. Sarah provides strategic leadership for MRCG’s various Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) initiatives, and is responsible for ensuring The Unit’s compliance with all applicable local and Medical Research Council (MRC) UK HSE requirements.

Sarah is a graduate member of the Institute of Occupational Health and Safety, UK. She holds an MSc in Occupational Health and Safety Management from the University of Portsmouth, UK; NEBOSH Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety Management; a Postgraduate Diploma in Occupational Safety, Health and Environmental Management from the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration; and a Level 3 Certificate in Quality Assurance from the Chartered Quality Institute, UK. She has received extensive practical Health and Safety training from the MRC (UK) Safety, Security and Resilience Team and other MRC UK Units including the Laboratory of Molecular Biology (Cambridge University), MRC Harwell, and the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (UK).

Sarah Sarpong

Sarah Dufie Sarpong- Head of Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) at MRC Unit The Gambia

Previously, Sarah worked for Norpalm Ghana Limited as a Quality Assurance Supervisor following her graduation from the University of Cape Coast, Ghana and National Service with the organisation. After a few years of high performance, during which time she developed a fully fledged and effective Quality Assurance section, she was promoted to the level of Assistant Manager and Head of Section respectively. Sarah was also given the additional responsibility of championing the company’s Safety, Health and Environment (SHE) issues, and was in charge of policy development and implementation across the entire organisation, with specific responsibility for liaising with all statutory and external regulatory bodies regarding SHE issues to ensure compliance and certification.

Initially employed as The Unit’s Health and Safety Manager, Sarah has made significant progress over the years in developing and implementing improvement strategies and has had particular success in raising the level of Health and Safety awareness amongst staff. Following on from this success, she was given the additional responsibility of integrating environmental management into The Unit’s Health and Safety management system.

Since joining The Unit in 2011, Sarah has effectively transformed the Health and Safety Department. This has been attributed to her energy, resilience, willingness to question the status quo and her focus on delivering results. Sarah’s proactive approach to introducing new Health and Safety initiatives is coupled with a commitment to empowering others, thus ensuring ownership of ideas and actions at the departmental level. Training of staff including managers/supervisors, conducting accident investigations and inspections, responding to urgent health and safety calls, ensuring compliance to HSE rules, organising HSE awareness programmes, developing and implementing new standard operating procedures are a few of her day-to-day responsibilities.

With the addition of environmental management to her role, Sarah’s new vision for the department is to achieve excellence through striving to prevent harm to employees, other associates and the environment. In line with this vision, she recently launched an energy saving campaign across The Unit, themed ‘make a small change’, encouraging staff to make small changes in their daily lives to help contribute to bigger improvements in the environment. This campaign is targeted at reducing The Unit’s energy costs by 10% over the next two years and most importantly, at reducing its carbon footprint. Over the next few years, her plan is to introduce other environmentally sustainable initiatives such as the installation of solar energy street lights, recycling some of The Unit’s solid and liquid waste.
Sarah’s proven leadership and organisational skills have been used in a number of Unit-wide context including, schools’ open day, a nationwide fire safety awareness programme, a Family Fun Day for staff, launching the ‘MRC and Me Wellbeing Programme’ and annual HSE awareness week celebrations. She is the chair of the Steering Committee of The Unit’s Wellbeing programme and is responsible for introducing initiatives that promote healthy lifestyle choices amongst staff.