The British Safety Council marked its new manifesto with an event at the House of Commons.
Held on 1 November, in its 60th anniversary year, the organisation has pledged to be an exemplar, to have a respected voice in health and safety, to facilitate collaboration, to be an innovative educator and an advocate for young people.
Each of the four speakers had something to say on these five pledges and the challenges faced in achieving them. Andy Slaughter, Labour MP for Hammersmith, spoke of how health and safety itself has endured a transformation and not always for the better: “The nonsense we hear talked about; ‘health and safety gone mad’, all those things I find distressing. And it’s a shame that we look back on the halcyon days of the health and safety at work act and the revolution in the right direction of health and safety that we’ve gone some way backwards.
“And that’s what I think 'the BSC' does best. It's a campaigning organisation and its voice is always heard and is always on the right side,” concluded the MP who started his career as a press officer with the British Safety Council in 1982.
However, HSE chair Martin Temple, in his presentation was positive about opportunities. He said that the time was ripe for campaigning and educating, particularly on health. “There’s something of a groundswell in terms of recognising the benefits to everyone in terms of having people able to work productively and go home healthy,” he said.
He congratulated the British Safety Council for standing the ‘test of time’ for 60 years and also looking to the future. Its future facing manifesto shows how work the organisation has done for generations will ‘remain effective in the changing world we live.’
The launch also debated rapidly emerging risks identified in the manifesto and how the organisation is positioned to tackle them. Martin Temple cited two of these; the ageing workforce and the pace of technological change. “The pace of change is such that we’re now seeing reports that 65 per cent of children entering primary school today will end up working in jobs that do not yet exist,” he said.
He added that by 2040 nearly one in seven people are projected to be over 75 and that workers over 50 now make up nearly a third of the UK workforce. How to define even what is meant by ‘employee’ in the future in the brave new world and to identify the source of their illness will be key challenges
Lawrence Waterman, who is soon to take up the position as chair of trustees, said that to meet the challenges the organisation will be making its many services in education, training and campaigning serve the current times. “Radical change in the workplace will have to be reflected in radical change in the charity. The great thing about ‘the BSC’ is it has remained relevant in each of the years it’s been operating,” he said.
Finally, the evening ended on a note of optimism for the future and the role the British Safety Council and its members can play in it. “The aspiration is to have work that doesn’t damage people,” said Lawrence. But in fact we can go further, he said: “We think that going to work, if the work is good, is life enhancing – that good work is good for your health."
He added: “Our members can be a beacon, display, demonstrate, show that good health and safety is genuinely good for business. It keeps your workforce going, it boosts profits.”
To access the manifesto, Combating risk in the digital age, visit the website here
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