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Safety and Health Practitioner (SHP) is first for independent health and safety news.
November 3, 2005

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Rural Industries Specialist Group- Getting to know you

We asked Doug Ireland, of the Rural Industries Specialist Group, to take part in a brief Q&A.

As a relatively new Specialist Group, how has the Rural SG developed since it was founded?

The challenge has been to provide a forum and networking opportunities for health and safety professionals within the sector, as many operate in isolation and in remote locations. As with all new groups, one of the early priorities was to let safety practitioners and others with an interest in health and safety know of our existence, and what the aims of the group are. We contacted all IOSH branches and offered to provide speakers, submitted articles for SHP and for branch newsletters, and made contact with key external organisations that represent the rural sector, both nationally and internationally.

We have an established Web presence within www.iosh.co.uk and update the section regularly with news and useful links. The group has had publicity stands at the last two IOSH conferences, and co-hosted a breakfast networking meeting with the Environmental SG this year. We have also begun to establish a database of skills to help members and land-based employers with health and safety problems. A major achievement has been the production of a Training and Competence Guide covering the broad spectrum of rural industries. This guide is available on the Group’s website.

How has the SG had an impact on its sector?

The group has exceeded set targets for membership growth in each of the first two years, so it is clear that we are successfully reaching out to IOSH members working in the sector. The group’s remit was extended by IOSH Council after an approach from a safety professional working in the off-shore fisheries industry. Informal contacts with group members and non-members show that they visit the website to keep themselves up to date with the latest news and developments.

What do you see as the main challenge at present for rural health and safety practitioners?

The major challenge for the industry must be the reduction of the level of accidents, particularly fatal accidents, within the sector. The latest statistics published by HSE do not make for comfortable reading. Another issue that may confront us could be how to deal with any outbreak of avian flu, if and when it becomes established in the country.

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