In the first week of this new year, we featured a series of ‘best wishes’ for the OSH profession in 2022 which were provided by a number of leading IOSH figures from around the world, including President Louise Hosking.
We asked them: “If you could wish for one thing that the OSH profession could do better in 2022, what would that be, and why?” Well, now’s a good time to reveal something of the response we got when we asked the same question of more than 200 OSH professionals (not just IOSH members) through our snap online poll conducted at the end of last year.
So, here are the chief take-aways from this wider poll. The feedback said that, in 2022, the OSH profession will need to:
- Put a stronger focus on workers’ mental health
- Be more open and engaging
- Invest more in training
- Develop a stronger health and safety culture at work
- Raise awareness of the importance of workers’ safety and health.
Here’s a more detailed summary of the poll response:
- There’ll be a continuing need to support people with their anxiety, post-pandemic
- OSH will have to pay greater attention to wellbeing and psychosocial issues in the workplace
- It will be important to convince others that mental health and wellbeing is just as important as physical health and safety.
OSH to be more open and engaging
- OSH professionals will need to listen more, especially to their associated professions; they’ll need to network; and they’ll need to show greater collaboration
- They’ll need to empathise more with others, to understand that people’s situations are different
- It will be important to be more flexible and think more positively when problem-solving
- Engaging with employers and employees should be emphasised over dealing with non-compliance and writing reports
- It’s time to move away from that old ‘clipboard mentality’ and become more practical and dynamic; “it’s time to bust the myth that health and safety officers are dull jobsworths – we are pragmatic, proportionate and approachable.”
- We need to provide more OSH training, both face-to-face and online
- Non-OSH managers and duty holders need to be upskilled
- “We should educate and train rather than punish”
- Make sure OSH training isn’t seen as dull or dry
- We need to educate more senior business leaders about risk
- Other calls focused on making safety and health part of the school curriculum; providing more training for trade union reps’ and more quality control of OSH trainers; seeing more universities worldwide offer health and safety degrees; and ensuring practical knowledge on identifying hazards and assessing risks
- And there were calls for IOSH to continue to provide free webinars and training, as well as make its CPD process more user-friendly.
Health and safety culture
- Let’s work to embed workplace safety and health as a way of life, not just something that needs to be done
- We need to get greater commitment to OSH from business leaders
- Forward-looking OSH professionals must be bolder in changing traditional mindsets
- “It’s time to learn from the Covid experience and manage people’s health and safety with a heart.”
Raising awareness of OSH
- There’s an opportunity to raise the profile of OSH by celebrating the many achievements of our profession during the pandemic
- Let’s secure stronger influence for OSH in the fight against the spread of coronavirus
- We need to make our terminology simpler and easier to understand
- People need to be made more aware of OSH, especially in Asian countries.
Other comments spotted on this OSH wish list for 2022 included:
- “We need to tackle violence and abuse at work – it’s a growing problem”
- “We’ve got to convince anti-vaxxers that Covid-19 is real”
- “OSH has to play its part in the drive to tackle the climate crisis and energy management”
- “We need to spread the word about RCS (respirable crystalline silica) dust”
- “Driver safety needs fresh focus in a mobile phone age”
- “Can IOSH set up a New Zealand Branch?”
Looks like it’s shaping up to be another ground-breaking year for all those involved in safety and health at work!