Safety is order of the day for new Scottish parliamentary group

There are extremely exciting times ahead in terms of tackling unnecessary deaths and injuries in Scotland…

Sensible safety is the order of the day – it’s not about wrapping everyone up in cotton wool, but about parents, carers, teachers, employers and others all having a role to play in empowering people to make their own decisions about safety, based on the facts.

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Children can easily get hold of toxic cleaning products if safety catches are not put on cupboards.

Sometimes the facts have been difficult to find of late as the collection of useful data, or rather lack of it, is a frequently discussed matter. But obviously, the more we know about how an accident happened, the more we can do to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

A new Cross Party Group on Accident Prevention and Safety Awareness has been set up in the Scottish Parliament which can delve more deeply into how and why accidents happen. This will be a fantastic opportunity to bring together politicians, practitioners and the public to discuss not only the everyday dangers we might face at home, on the roads, near water, in schools, or at work, but more importantly to offer practical solutions to avoid serious injuries that can usually be prevented.

I’ve been with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) for 18 years and have worked in both the home and road safety sections. I also have my NEBOSH National Certificate in Occupational Safety as well as a Masters degree in Injury Prevention and Safety Promotion.  All of the above has led me to look at safety from a holistic point of view and not as being compartmentalised into separate silos.

If a child, for example, is injured in the home, then it is very likely that a parent will take time away from work to see to that child, take them to hospital or care for them if they need to be off school. Therefore, employers should be interested in safety in the home “off the job” as well as safety in the workplace.  Small to medium enterprises in particular will depend more on their few key members of staff and should think about helping employees to prevent accidents happening to themselves or their families at home or on the road.

Elizabeth Lumsden from RoSPA with MSP Clare Adamson

Elizabeth Lumsden from RoSPA (left) with MSP Clare Adamson

Importantly, everyone has a role to play in ensuring places are as safe as they need to be, while also recognising that we still need the freedom to do those exciting (and healthy) activities we relish in our leisure time.

Politicians and government officials have an array of policies within the respective administrations of the countries of the UK to help them make big decisions.  But dare I say that, perhaps, when policy decisions are made at these senior positions, it can be difficult to track whether they have been converted into practice at a grassroots level?

Unfortunately, well meaning, well researched guidance intended to be used at a local level might not always be translated into a practical solution suitable for the communities they were intended for.

I am, however, delighted that this new Cross Party Group has emerged and that RoSPA Scotland is providing the secretariat for it. Convened by MSP Clare Adamson, the group also includes committee members: James Dornan MSP (SNP) as vice-convener; Alison Johnstone (Green Party); Jim Hume MSP (Liberal Democrats); David Stewart MSP (Labour Party); and Liz Smith MSP (Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party).

childChild safety was the key topic at the group’s first meeting at the Scottish Parliament in June when the potential poisoning dangers of children getting their hands on toxic cleaning products, like liquitabs, were highlighted. Discussions also focussed on a new partnership between RoSPA and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde to provide education and practical solutions to families across the city on this issue, like keeping cupboard doors fitted with a catch. Discussions also looked at the wider issue of how families can prevent accidents from happening in their homes.

The inaugural meeting of the Cross Party Group on Accident Prevention and Safety Awareness at the Scottish Parliament

The inaugural meeting of the Cross Party Group on Accident Prevention and Safety Awareness at the Scottish Parliament

Minister for Children and Young People, Aileen Campbell, even joined in with this inaugural session and noted RoSPA’s recent work with the Early Years Collaborative to provide home safety education to 800 families across Scotland, along with providing, and most importantly, fitting the safety equipment they require.

The meeting room in the Scottish Parliament was full to capacity with people who had travelled the length and breadth of Scotland (and beyond) to attend this first meeting.  It was overwhelming to see so many senior people from a wide variety of disciplines – trading standards, environmental health, motoring organisations, community safety, education for example.

The lack of meaningful data came up time and time again in discussions, and particularly “why are we still not getting this right?” I have a suspicion this topic will be back on the agenda at future meetings.  Watch this space!

Further meetings will take place on October 2, November 27 and January 29 next year, and members are keen to hear from the public about topics they feel need to be raised. Anyone with suggestions, no matter how big or small, should email me at:  elumsden@rospa.com.

As I said, it’s an exciting time and we want to bring everyone along with us.

Elizabeth Lumsden, community safety manager at RoSPA Scotland and secretary of the Cross Party Group on Accident Prevention and Safety Awareness.

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