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A journalist with 13 years of experience on trade publications covering construction, local government, property, pubs, and transport.
October 23, 2017

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The best of SHP in 2017: The 10 best TED talks for health and safety professionals

If you are not familiar with TED, then I would argue that it can be a vital workplace management and strategy tool for safety and health practitioners. Where else can you learn for free from the best business minds in the world, and gain insight into best practice on health, work, and wellbeing from multi-billion pound companies and academic experts? 

During my tenure on SHP Online, I have already attended a fair number of seminars, conferences and roundtable events. Many come with TED recommendations for the audience.

Below is a collection of talks that have been referenced by some of the top directors of HSE in the UK and other industry experts. They are all free to view, and can also be downloaded for distribution among the workforce.

1) Why jobs of the future won’t feel like work

This talk by UPS’s David Lee  – see his Linkedin profile here. Lee talks about the robot problem – yes, they will take our jobs, but what can we do about it? He claims designing jobs that “unlock our hidden talents and passions” – i.e. our weekend and evening hobbies – could radically shift creative thought within a company.

2) The way we think about work is broken

This talk by American psychologist Barry Schwartz – see his LinkedIn profile here – focuses on looking beyond the paycheck. The speech looks at what makes work satisfying, and suggests our current way of thinking about work simply ignores various elements. According to Schwartz, “it’s time to stop thinking of workers as cogs on a wheel”.

3) The happy secret to better work

This great talk by psychologist Shawn Achor – check out his LinkedIn here – also comes with an excellent reading list. One of the best elements of this speech is about happiness in relation to productivity – a big issue currently in the UK workplace. If you want to understand how worker wellbeing could have a dramatic impact on output, then this is the talk for you…

4) Protecting privacy at Twitter

A nice case study on TED rather than a purely inspiration/insightful talk. Del Harvey – here is her quite amusing LinkedIn profile – undertakes what TED describes as what ‘she’s learned about protecting users’ privacy on a platform where activity grows by the billions every two days’. Can’t argue with that being a fairly mammoth task…

5) These robots come to the rescue after a disaster

The use of technology to undertake tasks humans used to perform is a great way of taking risk away. Already in the UK there are numerous firms using drones and other similar equipment to safely perform tasks. This talk by Prof. Robin Murphy – a ‘disaster roboticist’ with some great articles on her LinkedIn profile – takes a look at how robots can aid fire and emergency services teams, as well as create environments which humans can return to quicker than in the past.

6) Robots that fly…and co-operate

More on the robot front. This time, in a scene not from Terminator but out of a lab from the University of Pennsylvania, the dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science, Vijay Kumar (LinkedIn here) shows how flying quadrotors – small, agile robots that swarm, sense each other, and form ‘ad hoc teams’ can be used on the construction site, for surveying disasters, and other uses.

7) When bad engineering makes a natural disaster even worse

‘Building activist’ and TED fellow Peter Hass offers an insight into how bad planning and poor buildings can make situations even worse. Speaking about Haiti’s earthquake in 2010, he says it was ‘a disaster of engineering’ more than anything else…

8) The security mirage

On to computers here…security expert Bruce Schneier (interestingly, he doesn’t use LinkedIn – according to this post he just doesn’t have the time) goes into detail about the ‘feeling’ of security against the ‘reality’of security. For Scheneier, we focus too much on addressing perceived risks and neglect more probable risks. This talk is about how to break that pattern…

9) All it takes is 10 mindful minutes

Onto wellbeing here…a great question raised about this talk on the TED website: “When is the last time you did absolutely nothing for 10 whole minutes? Not texting, talking or even thinking?” Mindfulness expert Andy Puddicombe takes you through how this can be done – and he should know – he left his sports science degree to become a Buddhist monk for a decade.

10) How to make stress your friend

No, really – stress can be good for you. Apparently. This talk by psychologist Kelly McGonigal – there are some great articles on her LinkedIn related to this TED talk – raises the interesting line that ‘stress may only be bad for you if you believe that to be the case’…

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Nigel Dupree
Nigel Dupree
6 years ago

Stress is good but, bad stress is bad, perceived or real especially, the dripping-tap water torture or repetitive stress type, that causes no perceived injury when sustained over time and, the mind and bodies reasonable adaptations to build resilience work fine until the adaptations fail to fully mitigate “it” and reaches the point of “adaptation exhaustion” manifesting in, initially, milder physical and/or mental illness and presenteeism until the mind and body is left with no alternative but to trigger the fight or flight response and if that fails make you sufficiently ill to force an escape from the workplace stressor.… Read more »