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March 31, 2015

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Ready, set, deliver

By Ian Cooke

Start your engine; place the important message and evidence on the passenger seat; drive safely to your company’s board meeting; deliver the important message along with supporting evidence of how successful health and safety risk management is within the field of business risk management.

Do we (the health and safety profession) do this? Have we sold our discipline and convinced management that good safety is good business? Yes, most of us probably have. However, how many of us have delivered this message and backed it up in the same way as an accountant would show actual costs over a period? How many of us have attached a figure to the £s saved? Even if, like accountants, it is broad based? Well, we should. Especially where business risk management is concerned as we want to ensure the message continues to be heard at the highest levels.

As safety professionals, we have focused on pure risk and preventing any negative effects these can have on our business. Maybe we should start to take credit for the speculative gains achieved by business. After all, it is the good risk management already in place that allows businesses to operate uninterrupted. And we should attach a figure to this good work. For example, we could attach costs to health and safety indicators such as lost time incidents (LTI), and then show how a reduction in LTI gives a positive contribution to the bottom line. The safety department may even be classified as an asset!

Therefore as safety professionals, we should sell ourselves, our work and our profession on a more regular basis. Even if your company is a global giant, the chances are you can add value to their overall risk management system with your expertise in risk assessments and controls. Try to think of how your work can promote growth, as well as prevent loss. I feel this is a great way to send a positive message as to what health and safety can do. If we are to have a permanent seat at the board table, then we will need to show this side and not just become a tick box within the higher level of Business Risk Management.

Remember, controlling pure risks helps business realise speculative gains.

Other links

UK Corporate-Governance Code 2014


A Risk Management Standard


Ian cookeIan Cooke is programme manager for health, safety, environment and facilities management at International Workplace. He worked for a leading health and safety examination board and went on to audit training centres. He has experience of health and safety consultancy within the UK and as an external examiner for accredited qualifications. He is a member of IOSH and CIMA.

Ian Cooke is speaking at the IOSH conference on the 16 June.

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