British Safety Council: manifesto ‘call to arms’ for sector
At a reception in Parliament, attended by MPs and peers from across the political spectrum, the British Safety Council launched its new manifesto, Combating risk in the digital age.
The manifesto aims to address the change from the heavily industrialised workforce that existed when the British Safety Council was formed 60 years ago, to the current professional and service-based economy. In 2015, the service sector accounted for 80% of economic output, the production sector for 13%, construction for 6%, and agriculture for 1%.
The BSC also highlighted the move towards a highly skilled and knowledgeable workforce that due to technological advances can operate remotely from anywhere. It also mentioned the change in employment relationships resulting from the so-called ‘gig’ economy.
Chair of the council, Lynda Armstrong, said: “These are challenging times for businesses in the UK, and the British Safety Council is committed to leading the way in positioning safety, wellbeing and sustainability at the very heart of all our futures.”
The manifesto has five headings with a series of mission statements:
- An exemplar: “We will conduct our business in line with the models which we promote, investing in our people and running our business in a sustainable manner. We will champion innovation and lead the application of digital technology to promote health, safety and environmental protection across business sectors.”
- A respected voice: “We will be a respected voice in health and safety, developing knowledge and awareness to support the proportionate management of health, as well as safety risk. We will provide authoritative advice and thought leadership on topical issues.”
- A facilitator of collaboration and engagement: “We will facilitate collaboration and promote the sharing of best practice, information and expertise in support of continual improvement and knowledge development.”
- An innovative educator: “We will provide high quality education and skills-based learning to promote competence in wellbeing, safety and sustainability matters.”
- An advocate for young people: “We will support young people in gaining an understanding of health, safety and environmental issues, to help them take sensible risk decisions in the modern workplace.”
Armstrong said that the council ‘cannot do this alone’ and concluded: “Partnership and collaboration will be key to meeting our objectives and we are committed to working with Government, regulators, professional bodies and businesses to deliver our vision that no-one should be injured or made ill at work.”
Andy Slaughter, MP for Hammersmith, who worked as a press officer for the British Safety Council in 1982, said that the work of the British Safety Council “could not be more difficult and more important than it is today.”
Referring to recent government policies such as cuts to legal aid, he said: “I’m afraid the zeitgeist is very much against [health and safety], and the nonsense we hear about ‘health and safety gone mad’.
“It’s a shame that since the halcyon days of the Health and Safety at Work Act and that revolution in the right direction on health and safety in this country, that we have gone some way backwards.
“But that is what the British Safety Council does best; it is not just a professional organisation, it’s a campaigning organisation. It’s voice is always heard and it’s always on the right side.”
Martin Temple, chair of the Health and Safety Executive, said: “The pace of change is getting quicker and the nature of work is changing faster. We’re now seeing reports that 65% of children entering primary school today will end up working in jobs that do not yet exist.”
Call to arms
Lawrence Waterman, chair-designate of the British Safety Council, spoke about “radical change in the workplace” that will have to be reflected in radical change in the charity.
He said: “The great thing about the British Safety Council is it has remained relevant in each of the years it’s has been operating.
“The balance that we have to strike is a very interesting one. Before the disaster occurs, health and safety is ‘a burden, a nuisance, a bureaucratic, horrible thing that I’ve got to work through’. Once the disaster has occurred, everyone says ‘someone should have done something to stop this happening’. We have to explain that what you do to prevent the nasty things happening, determines the way you operate business as usual.
“The manifesto is a call to arms for everyone engaged with the British Safety Council, its trustees, members and staff. But it’s also a call to action for the whole industry, the workforce and trades unions. This manifesto is the beginning of the next chapter in the history of this great organisation.”
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