Threats to the social settlement underpinning OSH law
Tuesday 21st February 2017
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Environmentalists are fearful of the implications of the UK leaving the EU and potentially weakening environmental protection. They also despair of President Trump's denial of climate change and appointments of representatives of "big oil" to key positions. Safety in the workplace may not be immune from these influences.
Safety and health standards haven't arisen in a vacuum; they are interconnected with a more general view on the value and quality of life. By subscribing to the IOSH vision of a world of work that is safe, healthy and sustainable, surely we also recognise that we need the wider society to be similarly safe, healthy and sustainable.
President Trump explicitly linked the Brexit vote and the US presidential election. Perhaps people who felt excluded from and ignored by political and economic discourse and decision-making found their way into right-wing, online echo chambers that resounded with "alternative facts".
It almost seems that in a period when we are called on to reject expertise, the stories that are believed are the ones that reinforce preconceived ideas rather than provoke thought. This could put at risk what we used to take for granted, that fairness and equality were good in themselves, requiring little justification.
As a profession we work for a level of respect and compassion for individuals at work and their families. In practice, we have relied on a legal framework of workplace standards that, like our day-to-day practice, is underpinned by a strong, communitarian morality that declares that everyone is entitled, within reason, to personal safety and an absence of threats to their health.
When we rely solely on the business case for safety and health we can lose sight of this crucial aspect. The direct economic costs of workplace harm rarely fall predominantly on employers, but we can still argue for investment in prevention and for the moral case.
When we rely solely on the business case for safety and health we can lose sight of a crucial aspect
Although some politicians claim that OSH laws are an unnecessary burden on business, we believe that it is wrong to manage work without properly managing the risks to workers and others who may be harmed.
Treating some people as "other" can lead to a broader attack on treating people as equals and risks returning us to the days when accidents to miners, for example, were regarded as simply part of the price of coal.
Modern workplace law rests on foundations established by the post-war suite of human rights statutes that some wish to water down or abolish -- it is the stated policy of the UK prime minister to withdraw the UK from the European Convention on Human Rights. Only through equality of treatment for all in the wider public realm can we maintain safe workplaces.
We need to ensure that human rights are defended and strengthened to successfully uphold safety and health standards. The recent rounds of populism seem to threaten that.
We have become so dependent on its services it is easy to forget how young the mobile phone industry is. The first cellular networks were established only in the early 1980s. Vodafone was in at the beginning. It evolved from the military radio division of the British electronics giant Racal and launched its first public network in 1985.Rapid growth followed, first in the UK, then internationally. It is now one of the biggest global operators, with 470 million customers on its mobile networks in 26 countries and another 14 million for fixed lines.
The recently published ‘Brexit’ White Paper has listed protecting workers’ rights as one of 12 principles which will guide the UK Government during its negotiations to leave the EU.In making its pledge, the Government states upholding workers’ rights will provide “certainty and continuity to employees and employers alike, creating stability in which the UK can grow and thrive”.
“Thinking I had come here for a quiet job,” says Simon Mallin, “in one of the first scripts I read, the opening line was: “She runs across the Armageddon landscape, her wedding dress on fire.”As head of health and safety at the UK’s National Film and Television School (NFTS), Mallin, Grad IOSH, has found his role is full of such challenges. It involves reducing the risks involved in the creative projects of more than 200 students learning to write, direct or produce feature films, documentaries and all variety of TV shows.
Many people with multiple sclerosis (MS) who feel able to work are missing out on the right support in the workplace, according to a UK parliamentary report. A year-long review by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for MS found that the fluctuating nature of the condition, which affects the nerves in the brain and spinal cord, is a particular barrier to work.
Cormac Gilligan, CMIOSH, is concerned about the millennial generation. Specifically, about how to hold on to the brightest and the best of those who reached adulthood since 2000.“It’s the talent conundrum that we generally have in our field,” he says, “how to engage the millennials – the oldest of them are entering their mid-30s now.”
In most cases a push for supply chain improvement, whether it was cutting energy and materials use or pollution control, balanced the stick with the carrot.Suppliers might be advised they would be expected to cut waste by a set percentage or to achieve accreditation for their management system by a certain date or they would lose a contract. But the client organisation often provided encouragement and advice to help them reach that point by the deadline.