IOSH urges new Government to provide health and safety assurance for the 2020s

The global Chartered body for safety and health professionals today urges the UK Government to provide assurance and certainty on the future of the UK’s health and safety system.

The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) urges any newly elected administration following the 12 December general election to prioritise workplace health and safety and publicly support the compelling economic case and social value of the UK’s world-leading health and safety system and regulatory regime.

IOSH urges the next administration to:

  • Reskill the UK for a safer, healthier, sustainable future
  • Radically improve the nation’s occupational health system
  • Design good work into all public investment and infrastructure programmes
  • Tackle exploitation of vulnerable workers and poor working conditions
  • Urgently implement national building and fire safety reforms

Richard Jones, Head of Policy and Regulatory Engagement at IOSH, said: “With an ageing workforce, technological changes, more insecure and ‘gig’ working, higher numbers of small-to-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and self-employed – as well as increased overall employment figures – the need for better workplace health management in the UK is fast-reaching a crescendo.

“As the UK heads for a new government, it’s vital that public policy focus on health at work is properly prioritised. We need to tackle the record numbers of cases of work-related stress, depression or anxiety (last year reaching 602,000 cases) and the 300,000 people with long-term mental health problems losing their jobs each year.

“Good health and safety is good for business and effective regulation helps ensure many millions of lives and livelihoods are protected each and every day.”

Figures released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) highlight the urgent need for ongoing action. These put annual Great Britain failure in safety and health costs at around £15 billion, plus an additional £12 billion for new cases of occupational cancer.

An article by Richard Jones, Head of Policy and Regulatory Engagement at IOSH, on why the new government must prioritise workplace health is available here:


Building resilient health and safety systems

SHP meets Professor Erik Hollnagel

Ahead of his Keynote session at April’s EHS Congress in Berlin, SHP spoke to renowned university Professor, Erik Hollnagel about how to successfully implement resilient systems within an organisation.

Erik Hollnagel is an internationally recognised specialist in the fields of resilience engineering, system safety, human reliability analysis, cognitive systems engineering and intelligent man-management systems. He is a Professor at Jonkoping University, located in the city Jonkoping in Smaland, Sweden and has authored more than 500 publications, including 22 books, articles from recognised journals, conference papers and reports.

He told SHP that he ‘stumbled’ into safety in 1979. “My endeavour has always been to understand what systems are and how they function in general. Safety is one facet of that, but there are others that are just as interesting. Unfortunately, systems get more and more complex, so it is a never-ending pursuit.”

Professor Hollnagel defined safety as not something you can ‘have’, saying that safety is not a substance or a quality. “Being safe is something you can work towards – individually and as a society. It is not actually possible to manage safety. But it is possible to manage performance so that nearly everything goes well and very little does not.”

Building resilient health and safety systems

Having resilient systems in place enables an organisation to take those things that have gone well and learn from them. “This is essential,” Professor Hollnagel stressed. “Unless you know what goes well and how it goes well, you cannot possibly find ways to improve it.”

“We do need to understand go wrong for the same reasons that they go well. But it is a question of unexpected combinations of everyday performance variability rather than unique causes that appear like a deus ex machina.

“My advice is to look at what is stable, not at what is constant. Stable performance provides the foundation for the existence and growth of any organisation or business. Managing exceptions, the unusual, is not a good strategy in the long run, and being constant, remaining the same, is definitely bad in a turbulent world.

He advised organisations to know where they are, where they want to be and what they want to achieve, before putting any kind of structure in place. “This is important for everything you do, not just safe performance.

“If you don’t know your position, where you are, and don’t know your target, where you want to be or what you want to become, you have no basis for controlling what you do – except if you just want to maintain the status quo.”

Professor Hollnagel will be taking to the stage as a keynote speaker at April’s EHS Congress in Berlin. Building Resilient Systems 2.0 will look at how safety efforts usually aim to eliminate or reduce unacceptable risk and harm.

“Delegates can expect to hear arguments and evidence, as well as practical tips, on what you need to do to ensure that an organisation’s performance is resilient.”

Intriguingly, he concluded that, “some should expect to be a little confused.”


HSE chairman calls out cyber security ‘complacency’ during oil conference

Martin Temple, chairman of the Health and Safety Executive, spoke at the OGUK HSE Conference in Aberdeen. Pic: Abermedia

The chairman of the Health and Safety Executive has called out “complacency” on cyber security within oil and gas and other sectors across the UK.

Martin Temple was speaking as part of a panel at Oil and Gas UK’s (OGUK) HSE conference in Aberdeen last week, following a spate of cyberattacks against companies with North Sea operations in recent months.

Mr Temple said: “You talk to so many companies who actually don’t think they have anything to steal and they don’t realise that they are absolutely targets.

“They probably have got quite a lot to steal. If nothing else they will have lots of information on their employees right the way through to some of their technologies.

“The other element of it is their product or service may well be used in a very vulnerable area where there is a lot to steal.

“This complacency is quite remarkable in some areas across our whole economy.”

Last month, Malaysian operator Hibiscus Petroleum, which has assets in the UK sector, reported a cyberattack which forced the shutdown of parts of its IT system.

Earlier this year, Aberdeen-headquartered energy services firm EnerMech was hit by a major attack which impacted its global business.

Petrofac and Italian oil services firm Saipem have also been targeted in the last 12 months.

At Offshore Europe in September, the head of Saudi Aramco’s cybersecurity division warned of the “exponential” growth in the threat in recent years.

Speaking at the HSE conference in Aberdeen last week, Mr Temple added: “When you talk about cyber security, a lot of people think ‘they don’t mean me or us’. It is everywhere, the number of threats we come across is daily.

“Some are more malicious than others and people have just got to be extremely vigilant no matter what their business is.”

Energy Voice