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Teams of researchers set about trying to lift the lid on a world of work which you, as a reader of this publication, are very much a part of.
The book provides a fresh and current perspective on OSH, recognising it has a rich and colourful history that has increasingly been shaped by public perception. For me, the research enabled us to explore how the OSH professional can confidently respond to these changing needs to shape the future. Adaptability, it seems, is key.
The book extract's focus is on "workarounds" and how we as a profession can learn to become more flexible in incorporating new ideas offered by the modern-day worker.
Elsewhere, the findings were of a profession trying to manage transient and disparate workforces as well as some of the challenges the profession can face in supporting smaller businesses -- proportionality has been a feature of the back end of 2016.
We have become accustomed to economic uncertainty, but Brexit, the US election and polls ahead of European elections in 2017 have brought political uncertainty to the fore in the minds of many, not least employers and investors.
We can look ahead to a year that will be focused on improving corporate governance
We can look ahead to a year, however, that will be focused on improving corporate governance -- we are hopeful that ISO 45001 will finally be launched and there is an ever-increasing focus on transparency, reporting and modern slavery.
More specifically for OSH professionals, there will be significant developments in thinking and practice on measuring OSH as part of an organisation's sustainability agenda: the Global Reporting Initiative will scope the OSH elements of its new standards and there will be a workshop launching the results of new Harvard Law School research on use of human capital (including safety and health) metrics.
I also look forward to the exciting advances in managing occupational health -- the construction sector in the UK will continue to drive forward its positive agenda and the global campaigns for healthy work will collectively advance policy and practice.
Governments too increasingly appreciate that occupational health is an issue for public health and, ultimately, national productivity. The World Congress in Singapore in September will be an opportunity for us to learn more on this.
So 2017 will not be a stand still year for any of us -- it will be a year of economic, political and environmental uncertainty.
Our ability to flex and respond in a dynamic environment is crucial. In 2017, individuals who can offer risk-takers confidence and certainty will never have been more important. You have showed impressive commitment so far -- more and more of you are using IOSH's Blueprint as one of the tools to support you in providing that assurance to your organisations.
I hope you all have a great and fulfilling year ahead.
But that’s exactly what researchers from Loughborough University have found is happening in sectors such as logistics and healthcare.What’s more, they say practitioners should recognise these “workarounds” are happening and support them where possible.When you break this down, it may not be as alarming as it first sounds.
Negative headlines, fines, problems and inspections all focus on what is wrong or what people can’t do. These begin to follow us around like a negatively-charged dark cloud. Perhaps we should reflect on our own behaviour because our words and actions can have a profound effect.Positivity is infectious; it’s motivating, engaging and it makes people feel better about themselves. Negativity makes people switch off and turn away. Let’s encourage what people can do rather than say what they can’t.
In most cases a push for supply chain improvement, whether it was cutting energy and materials use or pollution control, balanced the stick with the carrot.Suppliers might be advised they would be expected to cut waste by a set percentage or to achieve accreditation for their management system by a certain date or they would lose a contract. But the client organisation often provided encouragement and advice to help them reach that point by the deadline.
I was invited recently to meet representatives of a global company with a household name. The business was working on its sustainability strategy and, under Chatham House rules, bravely sought the opinion of around 20 external stakeholders including IOSH.The opening statements made by the organisation were encouraging. Its investors and board had formulated a mechanism to measure return on capital for non-financial indicators, and were focusing particularly on gains from risk management and governance.
In recent years, UK governments have questioned the role of OSH legislation, the safety and health culture that has developed since the Health and Safety at Work Act and, of course, the work of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Although the rearguard action mounted by practitioners’ bodies to argue the value of improvements in safety performance has been largely successful, it has had an unintended consequence of uniting the whole health and safety “community” as HSE supporters, almost as flag wavers from the sidelines.
One of the major lessons that should have been absorbed from the Aberfan disaster 50 years ago (see p 17) had to be restated forcefully in Lord Cullen’s report on the Piper Alpha drilling rig explosion and fire which took 167 lives. That lesson was that when a regulator gets too close to the industry it polices there is a high risk that its regulation becomes slack.