Dame Judith Hackitt said shared learning and networking among occupational safety and health professionals can make a real difference to the wellbeing of workers across Britain.
The message came as Dame Judith’s attended the inaugural meeting of the IOSH Staffordshire Branch, where she spoke to members about the HSE’s five-year strategy to shape the future of Britain’s health and safety system.
Speaking to IOSH ahead of the meeting, Dame Judith said: “The new strategy is for the system as a whole and everyone in it. IOSH and its members have an important role to play in driving forward all of the themes of the strategy, including focussing more attention on harm to health caused at work.”
Dame Judith, who is due to step down from the HSE at the end of March to become the new chair of manufacturers’ organisation EEF, also spoke to IOSH about the changing face of workplace safety and health – and how networking can help practitioners to keep up-to-date with developments.
She said: “Networking is important in any community because it provides opportunities for learning and sharing of knowledge. What matters is what you talk about.
“It needs to be about helping one another to implement the most effective practices. It means being open-minded about new and novel solutions – not immediately dismissing them because your workplace is ‘different’.
“For your networking in IOSH to make a real difference in workplaces, it requires each of you to go back and share that learning with your colleagues and to discuss how good ideas might be translated or built upon to work for you.”
When asked for any pearls of wisdom that could be of use to IOSH members, she added: “Share the good stuff, don’t go back and tell scare stories of how colleagues could find themselves punished, fined or even imprisoned if they don’t implement what you’ve heard about.
“Fear is not an effective means of influencing anyone.”
More than 120 people attended the first meeting of the IOSH Staffordshire Branch, which has replaced the IOSH Midland Branch North District.
IOSH President Dr Karen McDonnell and the Mayor of Stafford Borough, Cllr Peter Jones, were among the dignitaries at the inaugural meeting, which took place at Stafford and Rural Homes, in Stafford, on Thursday 18 February.
Jonathan Hughes, Chair of IOSH Staffordshire Branch, said: “On behalf of the committee I would like to thank all of our guest speakers, especially Dame Judith. She delivered an excellent presentation and was very engaging with our members, taking the time to answer many questions from the audience.
“To see such as diverse mix of members in the room was excellent, as was their passion for sensible, pragmatic and a business-centred approach to health and safety management.
“I am delighted that we can move forward as the Staffordshire Branch, and really make a difference to IOSH members through our programme of events, support, and networking, and to the local business community. By collaborating and sharing best practice we can really put Staffordshire at the heart of health and safety.”
The Staffordshire Branch is the first of three new IOSH branches that are to be launched in the Midlands in the coming months.
The Midland Branch East District has had its application for branch status accepted by the institution and will become the new IOSH Midshires Branch in April.
The Midland Branch South District is also due to become the IOSH South Midlands Branch in May.
Visit www.iosh.co.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org for further details about the new branches and their events programmes.
More information about the HSE strategy can also be found online at www.hse.gov.uk/strategy/, or by following the #HelpGBWorkWell hashtag on social media.