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May 4, 2009

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Retreat at your peril

The message that will be stressed to delegates at RoSPA’s annual Occupational Health and Safety at Work Congress, which runs alongside Expo, is that the recession must not be used as an excuse to backtrack on health and safety.

With the world in the grip of recession the RoSPA Occupational Health and Safety at Work Congress, which takes place at the Hilton Metropole Hotel on 13 May, will focus on the need for employers to invest in protecting the health and safety of workers — even when facing financial pressures.

The case for continuous investment in safety, as well as bold leadership in health and safety management, will be made by a variety of speakers, and is sure to feature high on the agenda during a keynote question-and-answer session and debates.

While the temptation to cut back on health and safety is likely to intensify in the current economic climate, delegates will hear that firms should not ignore the legal, ethical and business reasons for the effective management of occupational safety. Those holding director-level and managerial posts need to be particularly mindful of their legal duties to safeguard workers now, just as much as during the good times.

The Congress will open with a keynote question-and-answer session, in which RoSPA chief executive, Tom Mullarkey, will interview HSE chief executive, Geoffrey Podger, about the HSE’s upcoming strategy.

There will also be a debate on whether a stronger regulatory approach is needed to ensure effective director leadership of health and safety at work. Lawrence Waterman, chairman of Sypol Ltd, will speak in favour of the motion, with Ian Dormer, managing director of Rosh Engineering Ltd, speaking against.

Other speakers at the conference include: Susan Murray, head of health and safety in the T&G section of Unite the union, who will talk about workforce involvement; and Carl Carter, British Sugar Plc’s group development director, who will present the business case for health and safety.

Case studies will be presented by Dr Paul Kanas, head of occupational health at Cadbury UK, on responding to the new health-and-work agenda; John Murphy, manager of the Contractors’ Health and Safety Assessment Scheme, on raising standards among contractors; and Mark Varley, E.ON’s health, safety and environment manager — retail, who will talk about leading teams safely.

Roger Bibbings, RoSPA’s occupational safety advisor, said: “The business case for effective health and safety management is even more potent in a recession. This is because as sales and turnover reduce, cutting losses due to easily preventable accidents and work-related ill health becomes an increasingly crucial option for defending profits.”

Managing road risk

The Hilton will also be the venue for a second RoSPA event being hosted alongside Expo. The Practical Transport Solutions conference, also in association with the HSE, will be held on 14 May and will look at the biggest causes of work-related fatalities — road accidents involving someone who is at work at the time, and transport accidents that occur on work premises.

A variety of speakers will address the conference on these issues, and provide practical advice on managing the risks associated with the use of work vehicles. Marcia Davies, head of the HSE’s injuries reduction programme, will give the keynote address focusing on the delivery of safety responsibilities. Her HSE colleague, workplace transport programme manager, Carol Grainger, will speak on the subject of loading bays.

Outlining arguments from both the ethical and business perspectives for managing occupational road risk, Roger Bibbings will examine the legal picture, including the potential for corporate manslaughter prosecutions after road deaths.

Practical advice on assessing risks will come from RoSPA health and safety consultant, Nathan Davies, while Vince Murphy, the charity’s managing consultant, will discuss changing behaviour and culture. Shelly Stretton, assurance manager at Birse Rail Ltd, will talk about learning from operational experience, including accident investigations.

Case studies will be provided by Cliff Cheeseman, training manager at, and Gary Wain, transport manager at Radius Systems Limited.

Said Bibbings: “The Practical Transport Solutions conference will highlight a series of transferable safety tools that can be used in the management of vehicles at work — both on the road and on site.”

For more information on both RoSPA conferences see
or e-mail [email protected] or call 0121 248 2120.

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