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Reminding delegates in a morning plenary session that work is self-rated as the most stressful factor in people's lives, Emma Mamo head of workplace wellbeing at the charity Mind announced that her organisation will launch a public Workplace Wellbeing Index this autumn, recognising good mental health policy and practice in UK offices and worksites. Mamo said the index will help employers assess where the gaps lie between their intentions and staff perceptions of mental health policy and practice.
In a later session summarising the work to date of the Health Leaders in Construction Group, Martin Coyd, European safety and health head at Lend Lease announced that the Mates in Construction initiative has trained more than 100,000 Australian workers in awareness of stress symptoms and mental distress in their co-workers. Coyd said getting British men to talk about their feelings took time. If you asked the average male worker how they felt, he said, "They'll say 'fine' for the first six months of conversations", but would open up eventually.
In a session in the "How to influence" strand, Dr Shaun Lundy of the University of Greenwich asked his audience whether they saw themselves as leaders or followers; most opted for the former. Lundy suggested their choices reflected a stigma we attach to serving rather than being served. But a world full of leaders would be impractical and impossible, he said. Followers, he said, can be both sophisticated and complicated and early followers are "wonderful assets" to any project.
IOSH made two announcements during the day. The first, made to delegates by executive director, policy Shelley Frost in a plenary session, was that the competency framework it launched for the OSH profession in March has a new name: Blueprint. The second was that this is the last year the conference will be collocated with the Safety and Health Expo in London. Next year members will gather in Birmingham.
"Twitter will win every time," said Alicia Custis, talking about the speed that bad news can spread about an organisation in a crisis. Custis was head of communications at Stockport NHS Foundation Trust in 2010 when a nurse killed three patients by deliberately contaminating saline solutions on two wards with insulin.
Custis described an almost instantaneous link between events and press demands for comment ("They charged him [nurse Victorino Chua] at midnight on Saturday -¦ five minutes later I had my first media call," she said), thanks mainly to Twitter. She said it is impossible to treat traditional and social news media as separate entities when the BBC News UK Twitter account has almost seven million followers.
Her advice for anyone managing a crisis covered in the media included being as open and honest as possible ("the truth will come out") and analysing the media output and responding selectively with consistent messages.
Day one ended with a bang, as a worker on the Thames Tideway Tunnel drilling into some concrete at a worksite in east London struck a cable and collapsed in flames, screaming. The action took place partly on the conference stage and partly on screen, was an excerpt from the tunnelling project's day-long safety induction, named Epic, which dramatises events leading up to the cable strike and those after, including police and health and safety executive interviews and the consequences of the worker's death on his family. Delegates were invited to question the dead worker Michael Clarke's supervisor, who admitted he only "assumed" Clarke had cable avoidance training and that his priority had been just to "get the job done" rather than checking whether his charges were likely to carry on beyond the limits of their permit to work.
Delegates emerged from the session into an evening drinks reception clearly impressed by the performance's realism.
Words: Rob Cooling and Waddah Shihab Ghanem Al Hashemi If there was one thing that as an OSH practitioner you would want to be known for in your organisation, surely being innovative would be high up on the list. However, far too often a copy and paste approach is adopted towards OSH management; systems, processes and tools that have been used in the past are regurgitated and relabeled.
Smith said attempts to create an international standard in 1996, 2000 and 2006 had foundered partly on the wariness of the US standards organisation, since the risk management approach proposed for a new standard was at odds with the American prescriptive approach.
As any fan of sci-fi films knows, the first thing invading aliens always say when they slither, swoop, or step down from their landing craft on to planet Earth is “we come in peace”. As we also know, this rarely proves to be the case. No sooner have they withdrawn their spindly green arms from the friendly handshakes with the (usually) American president than they’re running amok with laser weapons, annihilating the planet’s occupants in their real quest, which is to commandeer our water, or our brains, or something.
Words: Rob Cooling and Waddah Shihab Ghanem Al HashemiIllustration: Gary NeillStrategy has long been a vogue term in business. Executives say that strategies are needed before rushing head-first into tactical decision making. However, they sometimes struggle to understand the nature and content of effective strategies. Fundamentally, strategy is about making choices; typically concerning what you want to do and how you will achieve it. From a wider business perspective, this may include what products or services to offer and how to execute business decisions.
Today, (Monday 20 June) the two organisations signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that lays out a programme of joint activities to create safer, healthier and more sustainable workplaces in the countries where the EBRD invests. Under the MoU, IOSH and the EBRD will work together to influence policy and practice in occupational safety and health. They will also jointly seek to improve safety and health standards at industry level.