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Safety and Health Practitioner (SHP) is first for independent health and safety news.
January 26, 2007

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Proving our professionalism

For IOSH President Lisa Fowlie one of the biggest challenges during her presidential year is to ensure practitioners’ professionalism gets proper recognition.

IOSH has worked hard to try and improve the image of health and safety practitioners. But it’s clear we still have some way to go. Some of the old stereotypes are still bandied around in the media and the only way to change this is to demonstrate that the stereotype isn’t true.

That’s something I’m convinced the profession is doing, but mud has a habit of sticking. This is one battle that is going to take a long time to win. The health and safety profession is often ridiculed, or called names, by the UK media. What the media fails to report is the bigger picture: the lives saved and the workplaces made more productive because of practitioners’ work. Our campaign in 2007 will aim to demonstrate our professionalism to the world. It will show the good that we have done, are doing and will continue to do in the future. And it will aim to reveal the diversity of our profession and prove the days of the clipboard have long gone.

Health and safety is increasingly a profession of ambitious and able people. And these people have the most positive of aims — to improve lives in the workplace and into retirement, and ensure productivity and businesses thrive.

We want to get more members actively involved with branches, specialist groups (SGs) and in helping us highlight successes our profession achieves. It’s no good sitting back and accepting the ridicule for nanny state issues — we have to show people, rather than tell them, that health and safety is not about wrapping people up in cotton wool and that we can help business cut through red tape.

This means presidential team, members, staff, branches and SGs working together with a single aim. It’s something we’ve done successfully before.

And this is a fight we have to win. All the hard work we’ve done in achieving chartered status, and are doing in Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and Initial Professional Development (IPD) could go to waste. We can’t afford to keep letting our professionalism and our value to society be called into question.

Health and safety practitioners are changing, and we have to let people know this. It’s a campaign I’m excited about, and I hope you will be too. I hope that many of you will get actively involved, because the more voices we have spreading our message, the more chance we’ll have of being heard.

Visit to find out what other issues I’m planning to address during my presidential year.

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