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June 17, 2015

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First UK Women in Health and Safety Forum takes place

Yesterday, Tuesday 16th June saw the first ever UK Women in Health & Safety forum taking place at the Safety & Health Expo as part of Health & Safety Week 2015.

Despite the room being hidden away in one of the rabbit warrens of the ExCeL, the forum was a big success with chair Anne Davies doing a wonderful job of moderating the four eminent speakers.

Karen McDonnell, head of RoSPA Scotland, was first to speak. She delivered the key messages of the importance of being yourself and connecting with your community and encouraged women in the profession to embrace their skills and think across different disciplines.

Next up to speak was Amanda Owen, business standards and resilience director at BUPA, drew on her experience at Gatwick and told the room that key to success was the delivery of health and safety outcomes and enabling managers to manager safety effectively.

Tracey Boyle, director of Workplace Environment Solutions, broached the important point about asking awkward and seemingly basic questions – adding that usually you’re only asking the question that everyone else is too afraid to ask themselves. She also highlighted the importance of listen and addressing other people’s concerns.

Last up to speak was Teresa Budworth, CEO of NEBOSH. Being visible and managing up was one of her key messages. She also urged the participants to reflect, learn and proactively seek opportunities to get better.

Following the panel debate, the tables were each given a question devised by Anne around the topic of communication. One of the questions was around whether you change the way you speak to somebody based on their gender – this encouraged a healthy discussion about the gender divide in some industries, like construction, where there is still quite a dearth of women, to others, like the entertainment industry, where the balance of men and women is pretty equal.

Each table reported back to the room, with women chipping in with comments and observations from their own experience.

Anne closed the forum with the comment that despite this being a forum for women in the profession we had moved swiftly to empowering and positive messages for health and safety professionals without getting too bogged down in traditional ‘women’s issues’.

The session also encouraged those present to sign up to a mentoring scheme – for more details and to get involved email [email protected]

If you missed this session then come along to our second forum taking place tomorrow – Thursday 18th – at the Safety & Health Expo. It is taking place at 14.00 in the IOSH catering area within the Safety & Health Expo.

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