Sharing the best health and safety practices

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At the end of November, the British Safety Council held a short one-day meeting as part of the celebrated Sword of Honour (SOH) and Globe of Honour (GOH) Award Luncheon. It was an opportunity for winners, some British Safety Council Five Star audit users and other British Safety Council member organisations – from the UK and elsewhere – to network and share insight on SHE management systems and auditing and unpack some ‘big’ questions in relation to this subject.

One of the most discussed topics was the legal value of having robust systems and good management systems in place to ensure compliance with the law. Mark Tyler, Solicitor at Fox Hartley, discussed the interpretation of the Health and Safety at Work Act duties and Health and Safety Executive enforcement policy, as well as the current and proposed new sentencing guidelines and Fee for Intervention. He said: “There are clear legal frameworks and procedures that should be put in place to protect the organisation and the individuals responsible ... it’s likely  the courts will increasingly focus on responsibilities  which run through different levels of organisations, looking closely at evidence of systemic failings to address SHE risks."

A panel with representatives from leading UK and international organisations discussed why SHE remains at the heart of their respective business activities. It was a reflective session, as members of the panel shared their success stories and personal insights about their motivations to keep SHE on the business agenda. The issue of whether organisations can realistically expect to attain ‘zero’ accidents and whether it is an appropriate approach to managing health, safety and the environment was discussed at length.

Occupational health also featured in the day as Dr Tim Marsh, Director at Ryder Marsh, ran a short workshop looking at health and wellbeing as an extension of a behavioural safety culture. Tim stressed the importance of subconscious perceptions in determining behaviour and wellbeing and the inter-connectedness of the key cultural components such as learning, leadership and empowerment.  He said, “You’ve got to remember, there’s no magic bullet to addressing a poor health and safety culture. So often the question asked is ‘where did we go wrong?’ There are a number of elements to this question, including physical wellbeing and the degree to which your staff actually enjoy doing their job. For example, recent research that shows around 60% of workers off with bad backs are actually off with mental health issues ranging from stress and depression through to general unhappiness because of the way they feel treated.”

The meeting was also provided with an update on the development of ISO 45001, which is anticipated to be released mid-2015, as well as ISO 14001. Dave Parr, Head of Technical Services at the British Safety Council said: “The Best Practice Exchange offered us the opportunity to look at the business benefits of auditing, provide an update on changes to the five star audit process and explain the development of the new international standard in OHS (ISO 45001). There are some significant enhancements incorporated within this new proposed standard which will eventually replace the current OHSAS 18001 standard. The new standard will allow for alignment with the revised environmental management system (ISO 14001:2015) and the quality management system (ISO 9001).

“Organisations need to understand what these changes will mean for their businesses, and importantly how to manage the transition to the new standard and interpret these enhancements. We are looking to support our members to ensure that they not only stay abreast of the developments, but for those that are seeking to be best practice leaders that they can confidently remain there.”

The meeting was held at the Wellcome Trust in central London.

More information on the Sword of Honour and Globe of Honour award scheme is available. Watch this year’s event or see photographs of the winners.



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