If ever there was an indication that the UK’s Institute of Occupational Safety & Health (IOSH) is the leading OHS organisation around the world, its entry into the OHS debate generated by the new UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, and the inquiry into OHS by Lord Young confirms it. “Rebalancing Act?” is a terrific summary of the major points of contention in the debate.
But, IOSH is also pursuing a reform that should have a much greater impact on the OHS profession. It is establishing a professional accreditation scheme that should set the benchmark for other OHS professional associations elsewhere, particularly in Australia. The scheme is not revolutionary but the process IOSH has used to build the scheme is admirable, especially when compared with the Australian HaSPA program that has stagnated, apparently, due to organisational politics.
IOSH and the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health have worked with the Health and Safety Executive on the program and have now attracted the following organisations, an ominous safety conglomeration:
- British Occupational Hygiene Society
- British Safety Council
- British Safety Industry Federation
- Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors
- International Institute of Risk and Safety Management
- National Exam Board in Occupational Safety and Health
- Royal Environmental Health Institute of Scotland
- Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents
In reflection, HaSPA may have run before it could walk.
In terms of the Lord Young inquiry, IOSH, in “Rebalancing Act?”, addresses prominent OHS concerns that have been mentioned publicly in the English press for some time:
- Health and safety has become a “music hall joke”
- ‘Cowboy’ consultants
- Cure the ‘compensation culture’
- The average office is a safe haven
- Small businesses should escape the tangle of red tape
- Put the excitement back into school trips
- Holding back in the line of fire
Many of these have emerged in other countries or are beginning to.
HSE has been trying to tackle to myths of OHS for several years. IOSH has been able to be more openly opinionated about the myths and about Lord Young’s thoughts. Regardless of which party is in the right, today in the UK there is a discussion about OHS, sometimes a debate. This is sorely lacking in Australia where OHS is not being discussed, only the laws of OHS are being tweaked, and not necessarily in the interest of the employees at most risk of harm.
Workplace safety is much more than safety laws. It is the practice of safety, the promotion of safety, the engagement of safety, the expectation of safety and the acceptance of safety. This is what OHS lawyers do not understand. It is what Lord Young does not understand. Sadly, it is also what many OHS professionals, do not understand.