This year, IOSH has seen the inauguration of the Staffordshire Branch which was formerly recognised as the North District for the Midland Branch. Now an independent and successful Branch in its own right, the IOSH Staffordshire Branch welcomed two members of the HSE Recruitment Network team to their fantastic launch event. Danielle Stallard reports.
Held at Stafford and Rural Homes, the launch was a celebration of the new branch after 16 years as the Midland Branch North District. Following significant growth in the area, there was a rising need for a new branch – this was immediately evident at the launch as the large conference room was packed full of IOSH members, a diverse and engaging group of professionals.
The evening was chaired by Jonathan Hughes and was kick started by inducting and welcoming the new committee, a small group of dedicated IOSH members who were vital to the development of the new branch and its future success. This was echoed by Dr. Karen McDonnell, IOSH President and an advocate of partnerships and ‘togetherness’. Karen spoke of the plans for IOSH this year, with a continued focus on supporting healthier and safer workplaces. Attendees heard of the legacy that Karen hopes to leave following on from her time as IOSH President and was very much aligned with the spirit of the evening – encouraging communication, growth and celebration.
Following Karen’s positive forecast for the year ahead, attendees were briefly introduced to Karen Armitage, CEO of Stafford and Rural Homes – which will inevitably be the longstanding ‘home’ of the Staffordshire branch. Discussing the importance of health and safety, Karen expressed her pride at hosting the launch, as well as her organisations ability to provide robust and credible facilities to a room of health and safety practitioners.
The group was fortunate enough to have Dame Judith Hackitt DBE as the evening’s key speaker. Described as a role model for young women, Judith started her professional career as a chemical engineer and credits this role for her success in the world of health and safety. She described the importance of safety and that it must be embedded in all professional positions, not just those directly responsible for safety – something she has taken with her throughout her career and into the high profile, challenging role she took in 2007.
Helping Great Britain Work Well
Dame Judith has been the Chair of the Health and Safety Executive for the last eight years and has played a key role in the improvement of safety standards and the development of strategies, including ‘Helping Great Britain Work Well’ which was her topic of choice for the evening.
The strategy addresses the need to identify and manage risk responsibly through six key themes:
- Acting Together
Addressing the tone and culture of the organisation as a whole in order to identify the most important challenges. Ownership and leadership is required ‘from the top’ in order to successfully manage safety.
- Tackling Ill Health
Considering the importance of your employee’s health as much as their safety in the workplace. A different approach must be taken when addressing health and wellbeing, as it is significantly more challenging to highlight and tackle ill health than it is with safety.
- Supporting Small Employers
The HSE have worked to simplify legislation effecting SME’s after acknowledging their need for support – it has removed the ‘over complications’ and cost barriers that affect the 14 million people employed in SME’s in the UK.
- Managing Risk Well
Managing the risks in the right way and ensuring that everyone in the organisation is well informed and supported when it comes to health and safety. This encourages you to recognise that there is no need for excessive paperwork or to focus on trivial risks, but to look at the bigger picture.
- Keeping Pace With Change
Continuously striving to improve health and safety increases an organisations efficiency – research conducted by the HSE is world leading. It encourages health and safety professionals to anticipate new risks and challenges and to be forward-thinking in their approach.
- Sharing Our Success
Promoting the benefits of Great Britain’s health and safety system, sharing best practice throughout the UK and abroad.
The strategy belongs to everyone and not just the HSE, says Dame Judith, who expressed her belief that they are custodians of the system and are so much more than a regulator.
The launch was rounded off by an interesting Q&A session in which a number of interesting and relevant topics were raised by attendees and committee members. Subjects included new regulations, laws and management systems such as the introduction of ISO 45001, asking ‘is this a positive change?’
The perception of the HSE was discussed, with different opinions presented to Dame Judith regarding their presence as an enforcer versus custodians of the system. She speaks with great pride when talking about the achievements of the HSE, helping the UK to achieve the best safety records in the world and echoing her earlier message – as health and safety professionals, we need to consider how we can share our successes with others, both in the UK and internationally.
The recurring theme for the evening was certainly a sense of pride to have the Staffordshire name as an independent IOSH branch. With a number of upcoming events throughout the year and interesting, current topics to cover, 2016 looks to be a positive and influential first year for the Staffordshire Branch.
Danielle Stallard is a specialist HSE recruiter within the logistics, transport and retail markets and has three years’ experience in the recruitment industry. She has built a comprehensive network since joining The HSE Recruitment Network in early 2015, working with industry leading businesses and successfully delivering on a range of assignments, from SHEQ Manager to Safety Director. Danielle regularly contributes to online publications and attends industry leading events.