New IOSH President calls for continued change in perspectives around profession

Prof Andrew Sharman addressing the IOSH Conference 2019
IOSH President, Prof Andrew Sharman

Experienced global safety consultant Professor Andrew Sharman has become the President of IOSH and has immediately called on fellow members to “challenge rules and remove bureaucracy”.

By doing so, Prof Sharman believes perspectives around health and safety can continue to change and more businesses will see the “true value of what they offer”.

He said: “For far too long, our profession has been blighted by negative media attention and even ridicule. Our members have been standing strong against this and forward-thinking organisations are becoming wise to the valuable contribution the very best practitioners can bring to their business.

“As a result, perspectives are steadily changing. I’m determined that this continues to happen. Health and safety isn’t about rules and bureaucracy and creating a burden. We need to challenge this perception and demonstrate the true value of what we offer.”

The chief executive of RMS, a global health and safety consultancy which supports organisations in high-risk sectors such as mining, construction and oil and gas, Prof Sharman officially took over as IOSH President at its AGM on Tuesday 17 September.

He has vast experience in the profession, working with big-name brands around the world, including Apple, L’Oreal and Mercedes Benz. He is urging health and safety professionals to ensure they respond to new risks created by the changing world of work and new technologies.

He said: “Working globally, I see significant variation in how health and safety is approached. I’d like to explore how we can raise the bar across the planet, leveraging IOSH resources and networks, and member knowledge and expertise.

“We need to think about the inputs to great workplace health and safety, looking at those elements that shape cultures and drive behaviours. It’s not really about preventing accidents but rather creating safety through improved teamwork, enhanced understanding, increased morale and engagement and better leadership. When we focus on getting the inputs right, the right outputs will follow.”

Prof Sharman moved into health and safety after sustaining minor injuries when he accidentally tipped a bucket of acid over himself while working as a process engineer.

He has been heavily involved with IOSH, chairing its Edinburgh Branch and holding positions on its Board of Trustees and Presidential team. He now becomes its figurehead, taking over from Professor Vincent Ho.

He is also Chair of the Board of the Institute of Leadership and Management and Professor of leadership and safety culture at the European Centre for Executive Development on the INSEAD campus in Paris.

He added: “The President is an ambassador for our members and I feel so deeply honoured to represent our profession and feel excited about the year ahead. We have much to do to ensure that workers go home without harm every day. I feel that now is the time that we’ll look back on in future years and reflect about how practitioners around the world really made a step-change in workplace safety.”