Culture And Behaviours
RoSPA shows how aligning thoughts can help drive policy excellence
Karen McDonnell is Occupational Health and Safety Policy Advisor at RoSPA. She opened and closed a recent Safety & Health Expo seminar with two, especially apt, musical references: the opening slide featured the very pertinent title ‘Staying Alive’ – though she promised not to burst out into the Bee Gees’ perennial hit!
At RoSPA, Karen is responsible for shaping RoSPA’s policy, linking to current and emerging trends in occupational health and safety related matters. Key to her role is working with, and through, RoSPA’s National Occupational Safety and Health Committee, which acts as RoSPA’s advisory committee, helping identify routes through which health and safety performance within the world of work may be improved. The committee is a voluntary association of people drawn from organisations representing a broad cross-section of occupational safety and health interests.
Karen began by saying that whilst freedom from harm is the key goal for the society and that work accidents and ill health don’t need to happen: equally we all have a responsibility to adopt a balanced approach to health and safety – and this should encompass work life balance and a whole life view to the prevention of accidents. She emphasised the belief that safe and healthy work underpins success, and it’s important to reflect on the past to move forward into the future – in order to make the progress that’s needed to improve the future.
Karen updated the audience on the next areas of focus for RoSPA, which include: fatigue; sleep management; driver fatigue; diesel fume; and falls from height.
RoSPA is partnering with the Ladder Association on the ‘falls from height’ campaign – entitled “Get a Grip”, to raise awareness of facts such as:
- There were 35 fatalities due to falls from height during 2017/2018;
- Falls from height are the biggest cause of life-changing injuries and death at work;
- Since 2014 nearly 200 people have died falling from height;
- Over the last five years almost 29,000 people reported a fall from height injury;
- Over the last five years the cost of people falling from height is estimated at £800 million, with many people needing lifelong care.
“Get a Grip” was the result of a drive by policy makers, regulators and industry leaders, to do more to reduce falls from height. This successful collaboration resulted in the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Working at Height (APPG) being established in October 2017, and an inquiry being launched a couple of months later. This is where Karen’s opener of ‘Staying Alive’ came from – which is the title of the inquiry report.
The Get a Grip website features free, downloadable collateral that can be used in toolbox talks.
Other initiatives mentioned by Karen included:
- A national strategy for accident prevention will deliver evidence-based action programmes across England and Wales. Key themes include: enabling; targeting inequalities, and there will be opportunities for input from private and third sector partners. This will help unite professionals by a common language – using health and safety language blended with public sector language to assist people in working together;
- The Department of Transport has funded part of a campaign to protect vulnerable road users e.g. pedestrians, cyclists, and older drivers;
- National Accident Prevention Plan: one area of this will encourage the collection of data about absence from work that has resulted from accidents in the home i.e. how workers are impacted who have carer responsibilities e.g. if their child or elderly parent has a fall.
Karen concluded by asking: “Who is the owner in this? Everyone!” And finished on this note with another apt musical reference – this time from Bruce Springsteen: “Nobody wins unless everybody wins.”
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