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October 3, 2014

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NEW HSE: Eastern Europe safety focus

By Dr Jennet Arshimova

The NEW HSE (Health, Safety & Environment) training and consultancy was set up on 2011. Its main focus is to promote high standards of health, safety and the environment in Poland and the rest of Eastern Europe and eliminate the culture of blame that often exists.

Given the region’s projected growth in the energy sector, we realised early on that action must be taken to develop holistic strategies that not only improve safety at the EU-level but also reduce the wide variation in standards that exists among EU members – the main focus being on Poland.

Integration into the EU was crucial for Poland and other Eastern European countries, both politically and economically. It had a positive and significant impact on the development and the implementation of occupational safety and health legislation. Understanding the significant differences in safety levels between Eastern European countries requires closer cooperation and a common strategy to build a safety culture.

Focusing on transparency and the sharing of safety-related information among these countries and new industry organisations, NEW HSE has co-operated with other institutions and associations to develop guidance across a wide range of Eastern European occupational health and safety strategies.

The idea has been to focus on activities that build an organisational culture, based around good planning. The guidance promotes a preventative approach to safety management and has been designed to inspire change – revising perceptions of the work environment and safety management.

In cooperation with various non-government organisations, associations and state institutions, NEW HSE has organised several conferences, stakeholder meetings and discussions so that Polish health, safety and environment professionals can share good practice around the prevention of accidents at work.

On 10 April, for instance, we held the first international congress for safety and health in Poznan, Poland. Organised by the Safety & Health at Work Association, the congress was the largest occupational safety and health conference event ever held in Poland. Around 300 delegates from Poland, Germany, Austria, France and other countries gathered to discuss how human factors impact on the workplace and shared experience from different industry sectors, including transportation, construction, oil and gas.

Last month, on 11-12 September, Warsaw played host to the XII International Conference, ‘Man–Health–Environment’. Organised by the Institute of Environmental Protection, the National Research Institute and the Health & Safety at Work Association, the event brought together 150 delegates, including employers, middle-tier managers and health and safety officers.

Next week, on 9 October, Warsaw hosts another international conference, ‘Development and validation of professional skills of health and safety professionals – solutions in the European Union – the prospects for Poland’.

One of the questions asked will be, does Poland have a system to support health and safety professionals? Also, do we apply the lessons learned from other EU countries? And, what tools do we have to face current health and safety challenges? The conference will provide an opportunity to discuss solutions to these questions but also a platform to share good practice and advice.

Readers may also be interested to know that Poland and Eastern Europe’s interest in NEBOSH-qualification is growing and for several reasons. Partly, this is due to the increasing number of international companies working in the region (e.g. on shale gas). However, it’s also happening because there is a push for greater compliance with EU regulations and a move to reduce the number of accidents and fatalities in Poland.

Dr Jennet Arshimova is managing director of NEW HSE

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