2020/21: A year like no other
The scale of the coronavirus pandemic caught everyone by surprise.
But our profession was able to take a central role in assessing and managing risks and hazards from the Covid-19 threat.
It was a situation in which people also needed continued access to essential products and services for their daily needs. All the usual OSH risks still had to be managed properly – against a background of major social and economic stress.
As the world’s largest professional body for occupational safety and health, we recognised our responsibility to help lead recovery from this crisis in safe, healthy and socially sustainable ways.
Since the start of the pandemic IOSH has been sharing the best available information about Covid-19, supporting members, partners and training providers and protecting staff.
At the same time IOSH continued to deliver key elements of its WORK 2022 strategy, enhancing the profession, and working collaboratively to extend our influence.
The sections below give an overview of how, between April 2020 and March 2021, IOSH responded to a year dominated by the Covid-19 pandemic to help address many people’s needs. You can also download and read our official annual report.
Supporting our members
We knew our members had a crucial role to play. But we also knew that they themselves would need support as they were exposed to the same pressures as everyone else. Some faced losing their jobs or being laid off temporarily. We gave support in various ways during the pandemic.
- We kept in touch with our members, offering assistance and checking they received the support they needed.
- We supported them professionally and financially by sharing information and advice, launching our mentoring platform and improving access to our Career Hub, and promoting the IOSH Benevolent Fund for those experiencing hardship and directing them to our concessionary membership rates.
- We helped training provider members experiencing difficult trading conditions by producing guidance on online course delivery, easing our credit terms and running sales promotions to drive demand and create new opportunities.
Protecting our staff and volunteers
As the pandemic was declared, IOSH moved swiftly to home working, maintaining good governance, business continuity, high levels of productivity and – most importantly – safe and healthy ways of working. Since then, we’ve consulted and have adapted the way IOSH works to be more flexible and supportive.
- We removed our staff and volunteers from risk by closing our office, stopping all travel on behalf of IOSH and equipping staff to set up home workstations.
- We kept them safe by setting up good crisis communications, connecting and informing them and providing support for their mental health and wellbeing.
- We enabled IOSH to remain productive by using the systems embedded by our transformation programme, holding Board, Council and committee meetings online, and considering preferred working patterns when planning a safe and managed return to the office.
Sharing our knowledge and expertise
In this time of uncertainty and hazard for employers, workers and their communities, IOSH and its members had valuable knowledge and advice to share. We refocused efforts to produce and disseminate useful information, gathering intelligence from our networks to improve understanding and interventions.
- Thousands used the free Covid-19 resources we developed and we made IOSH Magazine content easier to access with more digital content, podcasts and webinars.
- We helped other organisations to develop Covid-19 guidance for their stakeholders: the World Travel and Tourism Council, the Royal Institute of British Architects and the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development.
- We’re ensuring good OSH around the world, working with strategic partners like the World Health Organization and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development
- We participated in the ISO 45003 working group on psychological health and safety at work.
Our Covid-19 webpages hosted the latest information, statistics and policy positions, while our e-learning short courses were accessed more than 3,000 times in the first five days. Research we funded gave us valuable insights to use in the pandemic.
Deepening our relationships with business
With the breadth and depth of our partnerships across sectors around the world, and the reach we can achieve through our members and their employers, we sought to be a good friend to organisations in difficult times.
- We advocated for good business leadership and OSH practice throughout the crisis, working with the Institute of Directors and Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and other professional bodies.
- We consulted regularly with business leaders and employers on their needs and to influence ways OSH can be an enabler.
- We updated our world-leading certificated health and training courses with information relevant to the Covid-19 pandemic.
- Major businesses formed new links with us. For instance, international construction conglomerate BESIX Group became a certified IOSH Training Centre and championed our No Time to Lose campaign tackling occupational cancer.
- To support our West Africa Division’s development, we forged business relationships in the region, signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the Chartered Institute of Personnel Management of Nigeria to help drive health and safety standards.
- We hosted a human capital round table in early 2021 with leading global businesses, NGOs and unions to help shape and develop our social sustainability campaign, Catch the Wave.
Maintaining vibrant branches and groups
Our network of branches and sector groups are our lifeblood. They facilitate regional links and enable members in similar industries to connect with each other. During the pandemic they played a key role in bringing members together and providing peer support and updates on new developments.
- Our networks adapted quickly, moving activity online and organising virtual meetings and webinars.
- Our Branch and Group volunteers rose to the challenge to support their fellow professionals and the wider community.
- Innovation from necessity: we staged our first-ever virtual Networks conference.
- Our Presidential team visited the committee meetings of nearly all the IOSH Groups and Branches.
From March 2020 to January 2021 27,906 participants attended over 300 Branch and Group events, mainly organised through the efforts of volunteer committee members, which we recognised with a livestreamed a volunteers’ celebration event in February 2021, subsequently viewed 500 times.
Enhancing and advancing the OSH profession
The events of the year convinced us even more that the world needs an occupational safety and health profession that is committed, skilful and dynamic. Our WORK 2022 strategy set out to raise the standards of the profession, support professionals to achieve their career aims and introduce OSH to a new generation as an attractive career to follow.
- Our Level 3 qualification in safety and health for business became available as e-learning.
- In August 2020 we registered our 1,000th student member (over 1,500 by April 2021).
- We ran virtual peer review interviews for professional progression.
- We continued to support members’ professional development (applications increased 15% for CMIOSH and 55% for CFIOSH).
Working with others to extend our influence
Collaboration is key to how we work. By developing new relationships and partnerships, and by strengthening existing ones, we share knowledge and expertise and increase our reach to fulfil our charitable objects and sustain our customer service. Despite restrictions in travel, we were still able to extend our global influence.
- We supported the World Health Organization through the pandemic, developing e-learning about Covid-19 and sharing intelligence in various ways.
- We are working closely with the UN Global Compact and the International Labour Organization.
- We launched our West Africa Division in November 2020 (our first-ever network in Africa).
Looking to the future
The pandemic has forced IOSH to adjust its work programme to meet the needs of members, business and the wider world – as well as those of its own staff. IOSH is aspiring to be a modern, agile and flexible organisation. Its ability to face the challenges of the pandemic has enabled it to lead a profession that has gained wider acceptance in public perception and in the business world. The next strategic phase for IOSH will be to consolidate all the advances it has made and extend its influence even further.
IOSH is now one of fewer than 100 civil society organisations with Commonwealth accreditation. We’re building on this to make an impact worldwide with our Catch the Wave campaign showing the critical role of OSH in human capital and social sustainability.