Four industry experts decide whether COVID-19 has improved the profile of health and safety in the workplace.
Andy Anderson CMIOSH
Health and safety manager, Amazon
The pandemic has definitely improved the profile of health and safety in my organisation. There are now daily briefing calls and additional metrics assigned that link in with all other safety metrics. Having that dedicated opportunity each day to improve the focus on all safety risks, not just COVID-19, has helped elevate discussion to senior members of the organisation not previously involved. It has also brought emotion into the discussion – with the stark reality on the news every day – and I am now seeing that being transferred to other safety risks across the business.
Antonio Javier Gaspar Marichal CMIOSH
EHS manager, Dematic
The profile of the profession is now higher than it was a year ago. But how do we want to be perceived now? Championing compliance, driving towards ‘zero initiatives’ or enabling safe production? In the context of the pandemic, the first two have resulted in ‘neat’ anxiety-avoidance quick wins. But enabling safe production means sustainable change and is messier, more resource-intensive and less popular. ‘Good’ health and safety, like everyday success, goes unnoticed. Undoubtedly this is a better indication of the status of the profession than making the headlines.
Chris Clark CMIOSH
SHE adviser, Morgan Sindall Group
COVID-19 has changed the way we work and interact in the workplace to protect our health, the health of our loved ones and of the nation as a whole. A greater reliance has been placed on health and safety professionals to review government guidance and provide safe working environments and systems of work. It has also placed a greater emphasis on workers’ mental health and work/life balance. This has raised and improved the profile of health and safety across the country. To continue the positive outlook of health and safety we must continue to challenge the way organisations work in the future to the benefit of employees.
Lynda Parkinson CMIOSH
Health and safety lead, HB Projects Ltd
COVID-19 has presented the opportunity to improve the profile of OSH; however, much has depended on the approach and implementation of control measures. As businesses have adapted to change, communication of control measures have needed to be clear, sensible and practical with a real emphasis on meaningful feedback loops. The past year has reinforced the need for businesses to work together to find solutions, involving people from senior leadership to the shop floor, and has enabled engagement with a wider audience, showing value in how we identify and control risk.