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IOSH Rail Industry Conference 2016: Use positive OSH leadership to avoid complacency

How Britain’s rail sector can continue to lead on safety and health, and avoid complacency, was highlighted at IOSH’s Rail Industry Conference 2016.

John Gillespie, HM Assistant Chief Inspector of Railways at the UK’s Office of Rail and Road (ORR), speaking at IOSH’s Rail Industry Conference 2016
John Gillespie, HM Assistant Chief Inspector of Railways at the UK’s Office of Rail and Road (ORR), speaking at IOSH’s Rail Industry Conference 2016

Industry experts discussed leadership techniques, learning from accidents, behavioural safety and occupational cancer during the conference, which this year focused on ‘promoting a positive impact’.

John Gillespie, HM Assistant Chief Inspector of Railways at the UK’s Office of Rail and Road (ORR), told delegates that “positive leadership is essential if we are to have an impact” on safety and health in the industry.

He said: “Positive leaders need to have an understanding of motivation, and what actually motivates individuals towards as positive goal.

“For me, there are three main motivators towards good health and safety performance – legal, financial and moral motivators. These will play differently on different people, in different roles in an organisation.”

Mr Gillespie told delegates the UK rail sector needed to avoid becoming complacent about health and safety, with its position as having the safest railways in Europe being “incredibly fragile”.

He added: “Complacency for me is acceptance of the status quo; acceptance that we are safe enough; acceptance that we do not need to improve.

“For me, that is what complacency feels like and it can become part of an organisation’s culture. We can still improve – even a small improvement is a good improvement.”

The IOSH Rail Industry Conference 2016, sponsored by QBE, took place at the Nottingham Belfry Hotel, Nottingham, UK, on Wednesday 23 November.

More than a dozen speakers addressed delegates, including the UK Railway Standards Safety Board’s (RSSB) Engagement Manager, Alan Tordoff.

He said 1.69 billion passenger journeys were completed on Britain’s railways in 2015-16, adding that there had been no fatal accidents on trains in the past nine years.

Delegates were pointed towards the RSSB’s rail health and safety strategy by Mr Tordoff, who said: “We want to ensure the railway remains safe and that leaders remain committed to health and safety.”

The conference also included a joint presentation by IOSH, the British Occupational Hygiene Society (BOHS) and the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) on occupational cancers, and the Institution’s No Time to Lose campaign.

There were also sessions on behavioural-based safety and platform-train interface led by representatives of Virgin Trains East Coast and CrossCountry Trains, before Dr Pete Waterman OBE, chair of the Cheshire and Warrington Local Transport Body, gave the closing keynote address.

IOSH president Graham Parker, who acted as conference chair, said: “We hope delegates left this conference having learned something so they are able to use new ideas to tackle any ongoing challenges they face day-to-day.”

The winner of the IOSH International Railway Group Award was also announced during the conference. Click here to read more.

 

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