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Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Safeguard Magazine

Book Review — Be the best: how to become a world class health and safety professional

Be the best: how to become a world class health and safety professional

Are you world class? By Richard Byrne IOSH Services Ltd, 2009 108 pp, £15 (paperback)

Richard Byrne is a chartered member of IOSH and holds European Occupational Safety and Health Manager accreditation among other qualifications and professional associations. He currently holds the position of Group HS&E Manager for ATS Euromaster.

Motivated by frustration at perceptions of the safety profession – typified by the “clipboard and cagoule” image – the author sets out to write what he has dubbed “not a typical health and safety book”.

The book explores four areas: how H&S has developed as a discipline; strategies for being a modern H&S professional; ideas about how to overcome inaction; and tools for engaging and getting attention.

Describing the historical development of the H&S role, the author identifies the opportunity to add value by encouraging the management of risk, rather than simply “stopping things”. That type of role is made easier by current trends in corporate social responsibility. H&S professionals now need more general management skills than “traditional” safety skills. Among the skills needed are to be concise, businesslike, creative and to pick the right fights.

Moving to strategies, the author describes the following processes: assessing current status; prioritising an action plan; using SWOT analysis and prioritisation tools; selecting simple safety systems and getting engagement with interested parties; providing focused, bite-sized training; and, finally, ongoing monitoring and best practice auditing, using a variety of sampling methods.

In relation to getting engagement, the author contends that the traditional motivators of legal compliance, morality and cost are not enough for the disengaged. Instead, he promotes simplicity, use of business sense instead of “the law”, and the use of bite-sized chunks so people don’t give up. Some useful techniques for approaching the right people in the right way are described, including how to engage directors, middle management and employees. Techniques include peer reviews, performance management, and risk assessment groups to gain better ownership.

This book is relatively short at just over 100 pages, but its aim is at a level higher than everyday traditional safety. It moves away from the concept of safety for the sake of safety. Instead, it skillfully describes businesslike strategies and techniques that if applied, will no doubt assist in raising both the performance and perception of safety professionals.

Reviewed by Simon Lawrence of SafetyPro Ltd, Auckland.

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