Author Bio ▼

Maeve O’Loughlin is a Senior Lecturer at Middlesex University. Her work involves supporting the sustainability and occupational health and safety profession through teaching, consulting and research in contemporary and innovative approaches to operationalise practice. Prior to joining the university in 2012, she worked as a environment, health and safety practitioner in consulting and management roles within high risk industries, specifically the construction, pharmaceutical, chemical, and food and drinks manufacturing industries. She is an academic group member of the Supply Chain Sustainability School UK and chartered member of IOSH.

November 16, 2016

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The PIPER Initiative: academic research to improve health and safety practice

An event to celebrate the success of the PIPER collaboration is taking place at the end of November, with a look forward to the research programme for 2017.

The PIPER Initiative – Partnership for Innovative Practitioner Engagement in Research – was launched in June 2014 between IOSH London Metropolitan Branch, Middlesex University London and the University of Greenwich.

The aim of the collaboration was to facilitate engagement of organisations in occupational health and safety research. Now at the end of its second year, the IOSH London Metropolitan Branch is hosting an evening reception and seminar to celebrate the initiative’s success.

The free-to-attend event ‘Over the Horizon – Health and Safety Evolving’  will focus on the evolution of occupational health and safety practice through research. It is taking place on 30 November from 5.30pm – 8.00pm at the Victory Services Club near Marble Arch, London. Book your place by emailing [email protected]

Following short presentations from Maeve O’Loughlin, Middlesex University London; Shaun Lundy, University of Greenwich; and John Green, Laing O’Rourke, the winner of the annual IOSH PIPER initiative competition will be presented with an award and the opportunity to present the findings of their research. This has been announced as Giulia Prencipe from the MSc Occupational Health, Safety and Environmental Management for her research work with Crossrail.

What is the PIPER initiative?

 Anne Issacs (IOSH), Nigel Burgess (IOSH), Farheen Chuttoo (Winning PIPER researcher 2015), Maeve O’Loughlin (Middlesex University London) and Shaun Lundy (University of Greenwich)


Anne Issacs (IOSH), Nigel Burgess (IOSH), Farheen Chuttoo (Winning PIPER researcher 2015), Maeve O’Loughlin (Middlesex University London) and Shaun Lundy (University of Greenwich)

The evening will also mark the beginning of the new PIPER research programme for 2017 which will see new student researchers matched to organisations to carry out research.

The initiative was born from a strategic response  to provide leadership towards supporting the ongoing development of the occupational safety and health profession.

Headed under the direction of Maeve O’Loughlin, a senior lecturer at Middlesex University, and Nigel Burgess, former chair of the IOSH London Metropolitan Branch, the partnership has seen the development and implementation of a process for organisations to partner with universities to host MSc level research and OHS support work.

Providing evidence-based and cost-efficient support for organisations through MSc research is core to the strategy which was approved by IOSH in May 2014 and integrated as a core element of the IOSH branch strategy.

On an annual basis, a programme of research is agreed between organisations and MSc student researchers through workshops facilitated by the IOSH London Metropolitan Branch. Academic support is provided at the workshops to support project scoping.

This process has been successful in its ability to match suitable researchers to specific occupational health and safety concerns while also planning for further development of their skills in research and practice. It has also helped carefully agree project expectations and a greater understanding of the research process in these organisations. A competition is held annually for the best project with the prize of a paid work placement and the ability to present the work to the wider profession for the student researcher.

The initiative has seen students support companies such as Crossrail, BP, Transport for London, Thames Water, ISS, the Royal Opera House, Ipsen and a variety of others across sectors such as health, construction and local authorities with various types of research and projects pursued.

Outcomes of the initiative have demonstrated great value to both MSc researchers and organisations. All students involved have reported benefiting from experiencing work-based research and the employability skills that this brings.

They have also reported satisfaction in addressing real organisational challenges through their academic work.  Organisations have reported a variety of benefits relating to supporting improvement of their occupational health and safety practices.

There have been some challenges that required careful coordination in moving from the pilot research programme in the first year to the second year’s programme.

Organisations move and evolve quite quickly while academic timelines often have long lead times to completion. As such, practice can move on before research outcomes are determined.

Improved project scoping has assured a shared understanding of organisational objectives and drivers with those of research.

Additionally, improvements in co-ordinating communication between organsiational and academic stakeholders have ensured early identification of any risks to successful research outcomes. These improvements have seen greater benefits being realised.

This year a new PIPER initiative research planning workshop will be held on 7 December at the Victory Services Club, London.  This event will provide a networking and matching approach between interested organisations and researchers to define research projects into next year.

The IOSH London Metropolitan Branch continues to support the initiative and see this as a crucial element of their practitioner support ethos.

Nigel Burgess, former chair of the IOSH London Metropolitan who facilitated the development of the initiative highlights: “Most importantly, we see PIPER as an evolving initiative and are fully committed to this being a long term partnership to help fulfil the vision of a world of work that is safe, healthy and sustainable.  The Branch has always maintained an outward focus and is passionate to further the profession through evidence based research in support of health and safety practice in London and the wider area”.

The current chair of the branch Sue Manthorpe echoes this sentiment: “It is inspiring to see future practitioners challenging the status quo through research that allows efforts to be focussed on solutions which lead to improvements and support a safe work environment for all. The branch remains committed to supporting this initiative into the future.”

If you would like to know more about the PIPER initiative or you’d like to access free research as part of the new research programme in 2017 please see the IOSH London Metropolitan Webpage or email [email protected] .

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