British Safety Council had a major presence at Safety Health and Wellbeing (SHW) Live, which took place at Farnborough International Exhibition and Conference Centre on 28 and 29 September.
As well as taking a British Safety Council stand at the exhibition, Safety Management magazine was printed for delegates and contained the official show guide. Senior Head of Education, Dr Julie Riggs gave an address at the event, as did Peter Kelly who recently joined our sister charity Mates in Mind as Head of Programme.
Peter, who was previously a Senior Psychologist at the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), gave an engaging and heartfelt ‘call to action’ on mental health during what he described as an ‘eye of a storm’. He said the Covid pandemic and global recession were combining to challenge people’s mental health.
Asked about training more mental health first aiders as a solution, Peter said “Twenty years ago, I would have loved to see a million people trained in mental health, and today I’d still love to see that. But I also want employers to do what they are required to do, under the management standards, which have existed since 2003. That means doing a proper risk assessment on stress and mental health and getting the work environment right so that it doesn’t create problems in the first place.”
In her keynote address at the event, Heather Bryant, Co-Chair of the Health in Construction Leadership Group which co-founded Mates in Mind with British Safety Council just over five years ago, asked “How are we going to attract people into our industries if we don’t look after them?”
Nathan Baker, CEO of the Institute of Occupational Medicine (IOM), had a similar message to employers and their staff. Citing a recent IOM report, ‘What long-term threat to worker safety is being ignored’, Nathan said the “golden thread running through it is people.” Its main finding was that “the biggest threat to you and your staff, is you and your staff,” he said. “This is about leadership and organisations doing the right thing, throughout.”
In a presentation about how technology is transforming education and learning in health, safety and wellbeing, Julie described how new forms of digital technology will help to put learners in charge and “be the architects” of their own training.
Charting the changes that are taking place, with the emergence of AI, augmented and virtual reality, wearables and personalisation, Julie pointed to there being different attitudes between generations from the baby boomers up to generation Z, and now ‘gen Alpha’, born from 2010.
“No longer do we have a passive audience. We have to accept our younger generation are on a mission to make the world a better place,” Julie said. “AI and algorithms will create new content, and we will learn and spend more time in a Metaverse.”
Stephen Cooke is Head of Policy & Communications at British Safety Council
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