Safety Success in Scotland

Last week saw the return of Scotland’s foremost health and safety event and awards ceremonies at the Hilton Glasgow.

On September 21, the Scotland Occupational Safety and Health Forum opened with the theme “Finding opportunity amidst cuts and changes”. Tom Mullarkey, our chief executive, welcomed delegates and thanked the event sponsors, the Scottish Centre for Healthy Working Lives (SCHWL) before taking a look at health and safety in the current difficult economic conditions.

First on the day’s agenda was a panel discussion looking at the day-to-day challenges faced by health and safety professionals. On the panel were Roger Bibbings MBE, occupational safety adviser for RoSPA; Fraser Allan, head of health, safety, environment and quality at CBES; and Tim Clarke, divisional managing director at Balfour Beatty Construction Scottish and Southern.

What is important in health and safety leadership?

Roger Bibbings said: “You have to do health and safety with people, not to them.” Worker involvement is key to success when it comes to safe and healthy working. Tim Clarke and Fraser Allan are great believers in engaging with employees, telling delegates that it’s not enough to lead from the boardroom – leaders have to get out there and find out what their workers are really doing and work with them to improve safety performance.

Delegates at the event believe that health and safety has to be made exciting to get the message through to ground level – and they’re right! Health and safety does have the reputation of being rather grey and bureaucratic, which is unfortunate because it undermines the sterling work done by health and safety professionals.

An interesting debate arose around the new RIDDOR proposals, with Roger concerned that seven-day reporting may be counterproductive; others believed that changes would not make much difference, in that those organisations which are “good” at health and safety will continue to be good, while those who are “bad” at it will be unaffected.

Many good ideas were shared and discussed in the forum, with delegates getting involved and asking their own questions on a variety of subjects including leadership, communication, health and wellbeing, corporate manslaughter and the management of contractors.

The forum also discussed the best way to present the business case for health and safety to senior management; something RoSPA has been talking about for some time now.

Closing the event was a revealing – and brave – presentation by Ron Hunter of Scottish Power who provided an accident “autopsy”. He took a look at a real accident, examining the human and cost implications of the incident, as well as how the company investigated the incident, made improvements and moved forward.

The film made by Scottish Power in the aftermath of this incident is publicly available in the hope that it will help other firms to avoid similar incidents.

RoSPA Scotland Awards

L-R: Tom Mullarkey, RoSPA's chief executive; Gregg Johnston, director of health, safety and the environment, Balfour Beatty Construction Scottish and Southern; Tim Clarke, divisional managing director (Scotland), Balfour Beatty Scottish and Southern; Lord Brougham and Vaux, RoSPA Vice-President.

RoSPA’s awards scheme, the longest-running and most prestigious of its kind in the UK (and possibly the world!) took place on Thursday September 22, also at the Hilton Glasgow. Many award winners from Scottish businesses, who are rightly proud of their health and safety achievements, attended ceremonies in the daytime to collect their awards.

In the evening, award winners attended a celebratory banquet for the presentation of the major awards. RoSPA’s highest accolade, the Sir George Earle Trophy, was this year won by Balfour Beatty Scottish and Southern Ltd., which also took home the RoSPA Scotland Trophy.

Diners were entertained by Willie Young, who regaled the room with tall tales from his days as a football referee; and the band Ernest played until the small hours, with award winners dancing the night away.

A good time was most definitely had by all!

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