For the first time in a while I popped along to an IOSH meeting on the evening of the 11th October. I did so for a couple of reasons;

  1. The speakers were Dame Judith Hackitt DBE and Professor Andrew Sharman. I have heard Dame Judith before and she is a very straight talker and as for Andrew, well he is someone I met many years ago. Well before he got into safety we both worked for the same company, he as a chemical engineer and myself as EH&S Manager. He took to safety with a passion and boy has he excelled, not only is he now a professor, teaching and lecturing all over the world but he is about to become President of IOSH.
  2. The topic was Safety Culture, something I am passionate about.

The fact that the first 50 attendees also received a free copy of their newly launched book (Mind Your Own Business) had no influence on me what-so-ever. It was pure co-incidence that I was at the venue an hour before it was due to kick off!

The message delivered by the double act resonated in complete harmony with everything we are trying to promote, encourage, prescribe and deliver within EcoSafety so just a few bullets containing some of the key points:

  • Stop the jargon overload – keep the communication simple
  • It’s all about people. Spend your time and energy focussing on the ones who are exposed to risk / work at the coal face.
  • Get out from behind your desk to manage safety and plan very carefully the questions you will ask while touring. If you are not looking to genuinely engage with people they will spot the fake interest a mile off.
  • Work on changing the small behaviours, not generating massive documented procedures
  • Don’t impose burdensome safety management systems on small companies (under 25 employees)
  • Careful what you measure: stop focussing on the negative KPI’s (accidents), there are much more positive indicators that can be adopted

They didn’t shy away from the dire situation that the safety profession is in at the moment and were promoting their book as a tool to inspire business leaders to question their perceptions and approach to health and safety.

The safety profession has to change as well as the attitude of business leaders.  I look forward to Andrew taking on the IOSH Presidency not just because he comes from a practical, industrial background but because he appreciates it needs psychological change. Only a change in mindset and a change in how we all approach safety will make the difference and I have no doubt he is best placed to help deliver that message.