Author Bio ▼

Andrew Sharman Andrew is the CEO of RMS Switzerland, a global consultancy specialising in safety behaviour, culture and leadership. With offices in the UK, and Switzerland.  RMS has an enviable track record of improving culture and enabling excellence for NGOs and blue chip organisations around the world through industry sectors including aviation, automotive, mining, construction, oil and gas, pharmaceuticals, and FMCGs. Find out more at www.RMSswitzerland.com Andrew is also Professor of Leadership & Safety Culture at the European Centre for Executive Development in Fontainebleau, France, and Professor of Risk Management at the University of Zurich, Switzerland.  He is a Chartered Fellow and Vice President of the Institution of Occupational Safety & Health (IOSH); a Fellow of the International Institute of Risk and Safety Management; and a Fellow of the Institute of Leadership & Management. Far from being risk-averse, he loves adventure sports including climbing, free flying, sea kayaking and swimming with sharks. He uses these pursuits to re-energise the language, perceptions and functions of safety and risk management and align the disciplines with broader organisational issues driving positive impact and enhancing the performance of individuals, teams and businesses. Read Andrew's New Rules of Safety series on SHP here. Andrew’s book From Accidents to Zero is one of the fastest-selling books on safety culture of the 21st  century, find out more at www.fromaccidentstozero.com and enter code SHP 25 to receive an exclusive 25% discount for SHPonline readers.
December 17, 2020

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The New Rules of Safety

The New Rules of Safety: A brave new world?

In the latest edition of the New Rules of Safety series, Andrew Sharman reflects on how the safety profession has had to adapt to the coronavirus pandemic and looks forward to a ‘brave new world’ and a new normal where the health and safety of people remains the most important feature for us all.

Brave new worldWhat a year 2020 has been with the pandemic as we were all thrust into facing an unprecedented crisis. COVID-19, the coronavirus, has disrupted global networks and created new challenges within workplaces, for organisations around the world. In practice, the early stages of a crisis can affect leaders in two ways: first, there can be a perceived (or real) loss of control. Second, the events of a crisis typically outpace the response by the organisation, especially as the crisis begins to unfold. During these early days, the best leaders realised these issues and stepped forward to lead from the front as best as they could. In times of crisis the very best leaders understand that they will be judged not by their ‘bottom-line numbers’ but by their behaviour as leadership is everything we do and everything we don’t do.

OSH professionals around the world stepped forward to support their organisations, putting in place the support, controls and measures to ensure their organisations could continue to function while keeping everyone safe. Around the world OSH professionals were having conversations with Senior Leaders on a regular basis that pre-pandemic might never have been anticipated. But as the pandemic has become part of the fixtures for many of us, I urge us to ensure OSH does not slip backwards again on the agenda as we fight our way out of the grip of COVID. We must create a ‘brave new world’ and a new normal where the health and safety of people is the most important feature for us all.

My COVID experience has involved reading books – a LOT of books. One of these was Aldous Huxley’s A Brave New World. An amazing story from the 1930s that painted parallels for me in where the world is now. The title Brave New World derives from a scene in William Shakespeare’s play The Tempest, where Miranda declares:

O wonder!
How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world,
That has such people in it.

As the extract above suggests, ultimately for me this year has forced humankind to look again at our world, and to make some tough decisions – especially around control measures in order to save lives and keep people safe, whilst knowing the economic impact and consequences that may occur. By and large, globally, the decision has been to save lives and put the health of our people first. Perhaps the ‘brave new world’ in your organisation is one where you will continue to do this – truly putting the health and safety of your people above everything else.

There is a Latin saying from more than 2000 years ago that advises: “per aspera ad astra” which translated means “through adversity to the stars”. Every organisation is potentially exposed to disasters, crises and emergencies – large or small, high-tech or low-tech, localised or global. Whether operating in oil and gas, manufacturing, commercial, education, leisure, or national authority: no organisation can escape. However, with some foresight and planning the consequences of a disaster or emergency can be reduced and the essential recovery process started. When a crisis is managed effectively it can enhance corporate reputations and provide opportunities for learning, future growth and development.

The pandemic has certainly forced us all to do things differently: whether that be more remote working, increased digital transformation of our businesses, or the humanity and authenticity that has increased as we see our leaders juggling the same challenges we have (from crazy pets or home-schooling kids or laundry mountains growing in the background). Somehow now we are all a bit more human. The pandemic has forced organisations to take seriously and rethink their approach to worker health and wellbeing recognising the centrality of this to their own success.

In my book Mind Your Own Business, co-authored with Dame Judith Hackitt, there are fiur keys areas that I think help sum up what as leaders, OSH professionals and organizations alike we can do to build this brave new world:

  1. Make Health & Safety a daily focus for everyone
  2. Drive active engagement at all levels
  3. Leaders lead the change with humility, visibility, authenticity and genuine interest
  4. The top tier involvement and focus we’ve seen through the pandemic continues

The New Rule of Safety #28: A Brave New World

Read more of Andrew’s New Rules of Safety, here.


Professor Andrew Sharman is a consultant to leaders at Apple, BMW, Burberry, IKEA, Heineken, Jaguar Land Rover, Mercedes Benz, Tata, and more, and the creator of the Total Safety Leadership program designed to help transform safety culture across your organisation, email [email protected] to find out more.

Dr Andrew Sharman’s best-selling book Mind Your Own Business is available to SHPonline readers with an exclusive 30% discount. Use the code SHP30 at http://www.fromaccidentstozero.com to order your copy now.


Safety & Health Podcast

In this episode, Andrew Sharman shares his experiences of lockdown and talks about his latest book, One Percent Safer, described as an ‘anthology of the world’s best thought leaders, all in one place’. It contains 142 chapters, written by 142 different contributors, each one giving their best nugget of wisdom to make your organisation one percent safer.

Subscribe and tune in the Safety & Health Podcast to discover the latest issues facing the health and safety profession, and stay on-top of the developments affecting your role, from working at height, lone working and common workplace hazards, to safety culture, behaviours, occupational health and mental health and wellbeing.

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Nigel Dupree
Nigel Dupree
26 days ago

Brave New World “raising the status of Occupational Health for the future” just leaves the omissions of the past from 2007 HSE Medical Review with 58% of DSE Operators suffering debilitating eye-strain, computer vision syndrome (CVS) or Screen Fatigue and, increasing number, above average, MSK’s in 2020 while working from home, in addition to the common unmitigated visual repetitive stress injuries / 2D monocular stress related adaptations, myopic and asthenopic disease.