Time for a double celebration!

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May is one of my favourite months. Not only is the weather (finally, surely!) starting to feel more Spring-like here in the UK, it’s also when we hold our prestigious event, the International Safety Awards (ISAs).

And this year, we get to celebrate not just once, but twice.

That’s because, for the first time, we will be holding an event in India as well as in the UK, on 10 May in Mumbai and on 19 May in London. So, excuse my being doubly excited this year!

April also saw India itself pass a significant milestone. The UN said India now surpasses China in terms of population size, which was predicted to happen this summer but came early. By 2027, India’s economy will have grown larger than either Germany or Japan’s, putting it third in the world after the US and China.

Our own presence in India has also been growing in recent times, so much so we had to move into larger premises last year in Mumbai. We now have over 40 members of staff – and growing!

Mike Robinson: "Our own presence in India has also been growing in recent times, so much so we had to move into larger premises last year in Mumbai."

This year, the number of ISA entries and winners in India justified holding a separate event, and we also saw a record number of ISA winners this year elsewhere, from 44 countries.

There is much talk of the shutters coming down between nations. And clearly the world’s diplomatic relationships are facing some serious strains and challenges.

But health, safety and wellbeing know no boundaries and, when it comes to business and organisational best practice, it’s clear that the desire to demonstrate excellence and be recognised for success remains a powerful motivator for companies around the globe.

As CEO of the British Safety Council, I know the value people place on Britain’s own reputation when it comes to health and safety.

This has been built over many decades, and its foundations can be traced back to legislation we passed nearly 50 years ago, the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

We will be marking this landmark next year, and when we do, it may – or may not – be in the shadow of another piece of legislation, the Retained EU Law Bill which, at this moment, is still in train.

This legislation would mean that any regulation brought in when we were a member of the EU would cease to exist after the end of the year unless a minister should decide otherwise.

Thankfully, its future has been thrown into doubt by the government requesting a delay to its progress through the Houses of Parliament. You may have heard me spelling out how, if it goes ahead, it could create something of a black hole in our legal system and why it is a risk to the UK’s reputation overseas.

We must wait to see what improvements are made to it – in terms of its scale or speed – or whether it simply falls by the wayside. Either way, many will welcome a rethink by the government, given the vast array of regulation it covers – not only health and safety, but also employment rights, the environment, and nature.

Should that happen, it will be another cause for celebration. Not only because we will have avoided the confusion, chaos and calamity that may have otherwise ensued, but also because the UK’s reputation for taking a sensible, measured, risk-based approach to health and safety law will be maintained.

While I do not think that companies, or politicians for that matter, would want to try and cut corners or ditch best practice overnight, I do fear that we would be opening a door to a more cavalier and potentially harmful approach.

I cannot help but wonder what that would do for the UK’s ability to stand tall in the world as an upholder of standards, and how that might affect our ability to celebrate and promote global best practice as a result.

International Safety Awards 2023 


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