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December 20, 2005

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Rousing call from HSC commissioner

“You’ve had a significant impact on improving things and you are the body that gets more time with HSE/C than anyone else,” keynote speaker, Dr Sayeed Khan, said at IOSH’s Annual Dinner.

Dr Khan, the HSC Commissioner for professional bodies, said that IOSH had “gone up” in the HSE/C’s estimation because the Institution “always comes along and asks ‘what can we do to help?'” He added: “You’re great!”

On hearing this, it could have been easy to accuse Dr Khan of speaking from a well-prepared script. However, in his off-the-wall, 10-minute address, his speech was anything but scripted, touching on issues such as broken body parts, chartered status, occupational health. . .and of course, the story of how he became an HSC Commissioner.

>In sickness and in health

Dr Khan began with a quote from the former chairman and chief executive of the General Electric Company (GE), Jack Welch, that health and safety professionals would be wise to keep at the forefront of their minds: “Control your own destiny. . .or someone else will.”

“It was great to hear about chartered status. Well done, really well done! It’s really important in the outside world because it helps us look at you with confidence and shows you are competent and have a wide range of skills,” Dr Khan told the audience.

However, in typical style, he quickly told everyone that chartered practitioners still had a lot of work to do: “The bad news is that you’ve got b****r all knowledge about health! Call yourselves health and safety practitioners. Lawrence Waterman said that health was placed in the ‘too difficult box’, but you’ve got the knowledge, you just need to pull it all together. In medicine, we make it sound dead complicated — but that’s because we learn Latin in school!”

Becoming commissioner

“This time last year I was sat at Chester train station when I got a phone call from Neil Budworth. He said that RoSPA, IOSH and the British Safety Council ‘would like to put you forward as nominee for Commissioner’. I thought about it and looked at the job description on the website and decided I’d go for it.

“I always adhere to the saying ‘Never run a race unless you are going to win it,’ so I went out and I cornered the market. I got all the health and safety bodies, the hygienists, the Faculty of Medicine and Society of Medicine on my side. I sounded dead clever at the Commission interview!”

And with that, Dr Khan’s time was up.

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