What are IOSH members’ expectations for the year ahead? Will there be changes in legislation or policy, or will it be business as usual? Here are some of your responses.
CFIOSH, director, Renewable Safety
The energy transition and electrification of our energy system will further accelerate in 2023. Driven by net-zero commitments, the renewable energy sector in the UK and around the world will demand hundreds of thousands of new workers. We need workers with hard and soft skills who can design, install, commission, operate and maintain the technologies (for example wind,storage, solar and green hydrogen) and the supporting infrastructure.
The sector will need to recruit from a wide and diverse talent pool, including new entrants from college, first degrees and apprenticeship programmes. We also expect to see many workers transitioning from related sectors with complementary technical and safety skills such as oil and gas and the military. We also hope to see a continuation of the drive for further gender and cultural diversity, which is essential to help stimulate innovation and support this transition.
To support this, I have three hopes and expectations for 2023: skills – a laser focus on developing essential STEM skills and a culture of lifelong learning; safe by design – recognising the importance of organisational design, contracting strategies and work management on health and safety; metrics – better understanding of the positive use of leading safety indicators and the unrealised potential of big data and analytics.
CFIOSH, freelance health and safety consultant
I’d love to say that 2023 will see all dirty and dangerous jobs replaced by robots. I’d like to say that we’ll make great strides in slowing down climate change. It would be great if I could predict that some well-established software solutions for managing incident reporting, risk assessment actions or hazardous substances will be widely adopted to make sure practicable controls are always applied to foreseeable hazards.
This year is unlikely to see such revolutions, but I believe there will be an evolution in how we use technology in health and safety. I took part in a workshop recently in which we used 360-degree video in virtual reality headsets as part of the safety training. I have clients who, having seen the benefits of saving travel time and costs during lockdown, want to continue with virtual classrooms. Some artificial intelligence approaches that were just theory a few years ago are now incorporated into affordable products, in some cases spurred on by the pandemic. In particular, computer vision was adopted by some to monitor social distancing but is now used by the likes of retail firm Marks & Spencer to support coaching conversations. Let’s hope for more intelligence in 2023, both artificial and natural.
CMIOSH, director, health, safety and wellbeing, Multiplex
Pressures from demands for wage parity and increased worker migration across businesses and industries will, in some cases, bring priorities into conflict at corporate level. In construction, the unskilled and transient workforce is increasingly vulnerable to exploitation and mental ill health. As employers, we will have to work harder and smarter to keep our people safe, engaged, mentally well, competent and aware, but we should also consider how we improve retention.
Empathetic and values-driven leadership will be critical to businesses at such a challenging time and the IOSH Catch the Wave initiative will have even greater resonance in providing the right environment, values and culture to develop and retain people as the foundation of productivity and profitability. Those employers that rely on a significant supply chain labour base should be ever watchful to ensure their ethical labour policies and safeguards are proactively working to protect those at risk.
These challenges come at a time when the Building Safety Act secondary legislation will come into force during 2023, placing greater emphasis on duty holders to ensure competence not only technically, but also behaviourally, throughout the construction industry. Once again, ethical principles, standards and conduct will be at the forefront of creating a safer built environment.
CFIOSH, IOSH past-president and honorary adviser, IOSH Hong Kong Branch
It is of prime importance that practitioners start to strongly rebuild OSH alongside industry and social needs. Future business planning will need to incorporate health and safety as a key building block to success.
In construction, major challenges continue to exist. The Building Safety Act will require clear lines of influence on all projects. Designers will have to focus on safety in design, with all supply chain members taking due notice of their influence and responsibilities as duty holders.
Top management and OSH professionals will need to take a close look at section 5 of ISO 45001 and embed its guidance into organisations to install the right strategy and culture in rebuilding successful businesses and prevent risk from failure or prosecution, should incidents occur. OSH professionals in the year ahead and beyond need to engage with board members and mentor them on the way forward. Get it right at the top and the rest will follow.
Global Rights: Spotlight on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
How can OSH professionals heed the call for urgent global action?
I believe there will be an acceleration in investments in green energy to address the global crisis and stick to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). New OSH job opportunities will be available, and organisations will be facing increasing personnel turnover as people look to improve incomes.
OSH professionals will face huge challenges in managing fast-track projects, balancing production and prevention. They will have to develop competencies in new technologies and related risks alongside a new regulatory framework.
Mohamed Amine Zahr TechIOSH, group health safety, security and environment manager, Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy (Masen)
It is crucial the world refocuses on the SDGs, social sustainability and OSH capacity. This means prioritising responsible leadership, ethical practice and inclusive workforces essential for the future.
The key role of OSH professionals continues to evolve, as we seek active partnerships to deliver progress and the UN SDGs. This work entails raising awareness of OSH as a fundamental right worldwide and highlighting its many socioeconomic benefits. These include minimising human and economic cost, supporting business performance and a ‘race-to-the-top’, as well as opposing any harmful OSH deregulation.
OSH professionals can use tailored approaches, sharing case studies on creating long-lasting social value and promoting principles from ISO 45001 and other relevant standards, including on mental health and wellbeing, infectious diseases, modern slavery, performance evaluation and climate change. Meanwhile, as individuals, we can continually improve, using the IOSH Blueprint tool to enhance our business and sustainability skills, as well as those for OSH and ethical practice. And we can encourage support for initiatives like the UN Global Accelerator for decent jobs and IOSH’s Catch the Wave, aiming to ‘leave no one behind’.
Richard Jones CFIOSH, former IOSH head of policy
It is imperative organisations start to tackle the UN’s SDGs at local and national level. Every safety professional is part of this challenge. One of the 17 SDGs is good health and wellbeing; however, our challenge over the next year shouldn’t be to solely focus on this area but to integrate as many of the SDGs into our practices as possible.
We need to divest from linear and silo thinking over the next year. We need to integrate safety, health and wellbeing across our businesses and initiate conversations about sustainability. If we become the voice of sustainability, we can start to change how wellbeing, safety and health is prioritised in our businesses.
Chris Clark CMIOSH, senior safety, health and environment adviser, infrastructure, nuclear, Morgan Sindall
I expect businesses to focus on energy-saving initiatives due to potential shortages and significant price increases
CMIOSH, associate consultant, Inverroy Crisis Management
Lessons learned from the pandemic will be gathered and scrutinised by OSH professionals. These will be incorporated into crisis and continuity plans, which OSH professionals will be more involved with as the pandemic highlighted the need for robust crisis and continuity planning and mitigation. OSH professionals and organisations will be planning for disruptions caused by the events in Ukraine and the rise in the cost of living.
TechIOSH, QHSE manager, Prior Power Solutions
We have access to some impressive technology from autonomous manufacturing to state-of-the-art safety systems, yet we still experience fatalities that could have been easily prevented. We focus a lot of time and money on ensuring employees are competent but don’t invest that same time and money into safer technology. I don’t see any legislation being reviewed or changed to support the growth of safer manufacturing but I do see the industry’s organisations incorporating ‘lean manufacturing’ [a methodology that focuses on minimising waste while maximising productivity] to further improve the safety of their employees.
The mental health of employees is something that we continue to adapt to.
For the next 12 months, I hope to raise awareness of the importance of cardiopulmonary resuscitation training and safe use of an automated external defibrillator within all businesses. With more than 30,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occurring a year in the UK, the power to save a life could be in your hands.
GradIOSH, audit and risk, Ministry of Defence
I expect that the issues for the safety profession – and indeed the global workforce – will endure from the COVID-era. Business continuity will again be in focus with industry investing and preparing for future pandemics. An immediate focus for the profession will also be on continuity testing for possible blackouts. I expect businesses to focus on energy-saving initiatives due to potential shortages and significant price increases.
Appointing safety professionals is always a challenge, but I expect all recruitment will become more difficult with the labour market tightening. A shortage in workforce has historically led to increased pressure on a positive safety culture.
GradIOSH, Asia-Pacific health, safety and environment manager, Alltech
I expect we will see further focus on mental health, especially given the call from the World Health Organization and International Labour Organization for action to address declining mental health in the working population. Additionally, I believe businesses will need to continue to adjust to the effects of the pandemic and how employees want to work. This has – and will – put some additional strain on the OSH profession from a technical point of view; however, the outcome of these potential changes to the way we work will have a knock-on effect on health and safety performance, and so it is important employees are listened to and their psychological safety protected.
GradIOSH, health and safety adviser, Rolls-Royce Nuclear
I expect to see more of the same from last year in nuclear safety, such as continual improvement as an industry across all areas of safety but still with a great deal of work to do with regard to containing current and new risks. Mental health – rightly – seems to be getting a lot of attention across both nuclear and other industries, but there is more work to be done. It’s easier to speak up now and more help is at hand. This undoubtedly needs to continue through 2023 and beyond. We need to keep focus.
Changes to REACH [Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals] and COMAH [Control of Major Accident Hazards] legislations post-Brexit will also be a challenge to keep up with, but I see a very positive 2023 – and beyond – for the nuclear industry, given how much emerging work is across many markets.
CMIOSH, head of safety, health, environment, quality and security (nuclear), Morgan Sindall Infrastructure
I’d expect there to be a continued focus on occupational health and wellbeing with mental health at the forefront. With the cost of living crisis, we should be preparing for an increase in cases of poor mental health – as a result of money worries, relationship issues, poor nutrition and fatigue – which will have a knock-on impact in the workplace and result in an increased risk of accidents and incidents.
In line with this, I’d hope to see the provision of trained mental health first aiders become a legal requirement in 2023. While this will not prevent our colleagues from developing mental ill health, it will ensure that they are signposted to the help that they need. An aspiration for my team is to continue to develop working relationships and alignment with our HR colleagues so that we can better focus health and wellbeing campaigns and ensure that the right information gets to the right people.
We need to implement the Brexit changes, stabilise the energy sector and focus on sustainability
CMIOSH, health and safety manager, Shepherd Neame
I feel we are in a perfect storm: companies having to combat the hangover from COVID with regards to staffing issues and lost competence in their workforces; high energy costs, meaning businesses will struggle to make pre-pandemic profits; employees’ and workers’ standards and expectations being raised with regards to wages, working conditions, benefits and working hours; and employers’ environmental, social and corporate governance standards being stretched due to corporate image. The workforce is changing rapidly, and new employees are expecting a good standard of safety, welfare and support in their working lives.
We need to fully implement the Brexit changes, stabilise the energy sector and focus on sustainability before making changes to health and safety legislation.
I hope OSH professionals can gain better recognition for the work we do. I have often said to many colleagues and associates that the work put into safety is complex – more behavioural and more challenging than ever before. The work we do does not sit high enough in the national image.
CMIOSH, network health and safety manager, Marks & Spencer; committee member of the East Midlands IOSH branch
As a profession, we’re now more than familiar with reacting to an ever-changing landscape. When talking about risk, we need to continue to be agile in our decision‑making, to adapt and influence throughout all levels of our organisations. Listening and engaging have never been so important.
The revised and enhanced Blueprint launched in November has allowed members an opportunity to further self-reflect on individual behavioural development needs. This offers us all a brilliant platform and I’m excited to see this grow throughout 2023.
With so much uncertainty and change currently around us in our day-to-day lives, our organisations’ absolute commitment to health, safety and wellbeing must remain the constant through brilliant leadership that stretches beyond the technical, enabling us to react to whatever appears next on the horizon.
CFIOSH, head of safety, Leviat
I am seeing an increased focus on workplace health and safety, and wellness in particular. Revised home and hybrid working arrangements are becoming the norm and to make such work-related processes sustainable, I see greater engagement and interdependence on home safety and wellness, the like of which we have not seen before.
As a number of other areas to drive improvements took a back seat as businesses learned to cope with COVID, I see a realignment and revision of workplace priorities. I hope this will be supported by a review of legislation and further transition away from the influence of EU legislative arrangements. I think the important thing is that businesses use this revitalisation period as an opportunity to strengthen their safety and overall business performance – encouraging greater engagement and participation of all workers.
CMIOSH, health and safety adviser, the Football Association
I’m expecting more of an emphasis on the significance of fire safety and how this should always be prioritised, in response to the Grenfell tragedy and new fire safety legislation.
I don’t expect any big changes in legislation; however, I hope that as a society and as an industry, we continue to focus on the importance of mental health and wellbeing.
Most companies have adjusted well to hybrid working and I feel that we need to embrace this as a permanent change, as opposed to a temporary measure.
GradIOSH, SHEQ Manager, Powersystems
My predictions would be that there will be Health & Safety issues around the roll-out of electric vehicles such as EV type (CAR , HGV etc), EV charging (current and voltage risks), the lack of sound from EV vehicles creating hazards and risk; fire/heat hazards and risks; battery handling and recycling issues; EV servicing and maintenance considerations.
CMIOSH, partner, health and safety, Rider Levett Bucknall
The world seems to be holding its breath on several subjects and those in the health and safety circle are no different. 2022 saw the enactment of arguably one of the biggest pieces of health and safety legislation in more than 40 years – the Building Safety Act. In 2023, we can expect to see the details of the secondary legislation filter out and make an impact on the construction industry.
On the back of the Grenfell tragedy, the construction industry has been reflecting on how it approaches building safety. 2023 will be the year we have to really put those changes into action, whether that is a consistent approach to competency levels, improvements to the data we have on products or gateways introduced to act as pause-points, opportunities to check safety remains a priority on projects.
The UK Building Safety Regulator will be busy assisting those with new responsibilities to meet requirements, with more emphasis than we’ve ever seen before on the occupational safety of those living in higher-risk buildings. While some will argue that the changes the Act and its secondary legislation introduced are not new, 2023 will nonetheless be a year of building safety scrutiny and focus.
CMIOSH, senior HSE instructor and consultant, Megamas Training Company
A big trap we must all avoid in 2023 and beyond is complacency. The COVID pandemic taught us many lessons, but if we ignore this learning, we will continue to make the same mistakes. This has already happened in various parts of the world. As governments, organisations and everyday people try to ramp up economies and get their way of life back on track, the cost has been the needless loss of too many lives and life-changing injuries being sustained.
The pandemic also showed us the importance of continuous professional development (CPD). Most of us know that health and safety is a career, not a job. I am sure, however, that there are plenty of people, including myself, who learned much about disease management and control, business resilience and adaptability, among other things over the past years. So continuing this going forward, as well as maintaining our current skills and knowledge, is vital to the continued success not just of our ability to protect and help others, but also for our own growth and development. The new IOSH Blueprint and CPD systems should aid us greatly in this.
The UK will see the enforcement, from January 2023, of the Fire Safety Regulations 2022. Again, we as health and safety professionals should always be on the lookout for these changes, how they may affect our organisations and colleagues, and what we can do to assist with any changes and transitions required.
We should not become complacent, remember the sometimes painful lessons we have learned and grow into new things in order to continue to make health and safety a success for everyone in 2023 and beyond.