Celebrating our 60th anniversary in 2017 has been a voyage of discovery for the British Safety Council, and like any voyage it has had its surprises and revelations. Looking back at 1957, it shocked us to see construction workers high up in the skies wearing their Sunday best, but getting to know more about how the British Safety Council campaigned and influenced public life for the good has been a rewarding and humbling experience.
As we focussed on the present and future, we also launched a number of special offers and initiatives to both mark the occasion and make sure we continue to play such a pivotal role to influence the public good.
The latest is a set of free resources that will enable businesses to run a basic health and safety workshop for people in their local community. We know that many people who work in SMEs, charities or community groups can find health and safety difficult, complex and frankly a little bit frightening.
We also know that with constructive thinking on how to identify risks, most can be easily controlled. It doesn’t cost much and doesn’t require enormous staff time – but many don’t even start the journey. Yet successful activities are safe activities and community groups can’t help others if they themselves are not safe.
Our latest offer – Safer Communities – puts free resources in the hands of willing businesses, so they can run short 90-minute workshops for people in their local community. In the session they will learn the basics of spotting hazards, the importance of near misses, a framework to assess risks and how to come up with control measures that work.
This attempt to reach out to smaller, more vulnerable groups was preceded by our Supporter offer. Launched in January, the offer gave small organisations and charities some of our membership resources for free. We are delighted that over 500 organisations are now Supporters and are benefitting from these tried-and-tested tools.
We also need to reach out to young people on the value of good health and safety. If we fail to make it relevant to them, we will be justly accused of making a historic mistake. With this in mind, we celebrated our 60th anniversary on 23 March with a number of young filmmakers who had made short films on the theme of risk. It was a delight to see their films on climate change, mental health and new technology, and listen to them talk eloquently about their ideas and respond to their questions about the British Safety Council.
The British Safety Council’s long experience in changing people’s perceptions of health and safety and developing tools to improve how risks are managed in and around the workplace, was amply demonstrated during 2017. With the launch of our online digital archive, we gained an insight into our past successes and inspiration into how to make health and safety – which can get a bad press – a vital part of our progress as a country.
The county of one’s birth is not in our control, yet has a profound impact on how work risks are regulated and enforced, on the culture of the workplace, and on societal expectations: all of which play a part in the health, safety and wellbeing of any individual worker. Just a few days ago we opened an office in India because if we are going to reach our global vision that no one should be injured or killed at work, then we have to go where the need is greatest.
Closer to home there, of course, remain significant concerns, and one of the most pressing in 2017 is the state of our mental health. The causes for this are complex but the evidence is clear that many workers are struggling with their mental health and having to take time off work. This is leading to misery for many people and losses to business. In 2017, we launched Mates in Mind, a mental health charity that seeks to address the stigma attached to mental health in the construction industry and trigger conversations to tackle it.
Both of these developments show that our appetite for making a difference has not diminished over the last 60 years. Look out for many more exciting initiatives to be launched in 2018; the first of our next 60 years.
Would you like to do something for your community? Free resources from the British Safety Council to run 90 minute health and safety workshops here
To watch British Safety Council at 60, a film about the origins of the British Safety Council in 1957 and how it campaigned to form public attitudes to value good health and safety, visit our YouTube channel here