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Safety and Health Practitioner (SHP) is first for independent health and safety news.
February 21, 2007

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Changing the way we work

It’s conference time again, and IOSH president Lisa Fowlie can’t wait.

This year’s conference focuses on ‘the changing world of work’. It’s a theme that I feel the profession needs to look at — we have to face up to the fact that workplaces, and the workforce, are changing.

Much of our work in the past has been focused on the ‘safety’ side of our profession: preventing accidents; ensuring machinery is safe to operate; and, implementing systems of work that keep people free from harm. But, it’s the health issues that are now the big challenge for our profession: it’s these that are damaging and disabling the most people.

IOSH 07 will definitely not forget safety because that’s still something we can improve. But we’re a long way from solving the health problem, and it’s something we must not shy away from. We have to engage with the challenge.

To help us do that, we will be launching an occupational health toolkit at IOSH 07 that will help practitioners better identify and manage health issues in their workplaces, starting with musculoskeletal disorders and stress. The toolkit will be available free online, and you’ll be able to try it out on the IOSH stand.

The birthplace of industry

IOSH 07 will be held at the Telford International Centre, and I believe Telford is an apt choice for an event about ‘the changing world of work’. As a ‘new town’, Telford has seen much change itself. It is nicknamed the “the birthplace of industry” because of the iron industry that developed in the area.

If you get the chance, I’d strongly recommend a visit to Ironbridge Gorge — an opportunity to learn about the challenges that building that bridge brought in the 1770’s.

Today, Telford is home to a number of major Japanese and Taiwanese companies, including NEC and Epson.

My highlights

For me, being involved in organising such a massive event as IOSH 07 has been a real honour, and I really can’t wait to see all of the hard work come to fruition.

I’m looking forward to all of it, but a highlight for me will be hearing from John Hutton MP, the secretary of state at the Department for Work and Pensions, who’ll be opening our conference by telling us about the government’s welfare reform and rehabilitation plans. Having such a prominent minister along shows how far IOSH has come — our profession really is on the map.

Of course, hearing from our past president Lawrence Waterman talking about the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games will also be fascinating, and it will be a pleasure to welcome the chief executive of the HSE, Geoffrey Podger, back for a second year in a row.

But given my personal interest in stress-related issues, I’m particularly looking forward to parallel session tracks on ‘occupational health and workplace wellbeing’ and ‘managing pressure and preventing workplace stress’. Indeed with so much choice the hardest decision will be which session to attend!

I look forward to welcoming you to Telford, and I hope you find it as interesting and enlightening as I will.

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