The new President of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) said it will be “side by side with its members and the businesses they work for” as they continue to adapt to new ways of working.
James Quinn, who is a Senior Health and Safety Manager for leading international construction contractor Multiplex, said that with the Covid-19 pandemic causing uncertainty, businesses are turning to safety and health professionals as they seek to protect their people and their futures.
Speaking yesterday (Tuesday 27 October), as he was confirmed as President of IOSH, succeeding Dr Andrew Sharman, James added this made it “an important time” for the profession.
He said: “Organisations around the world are recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic. Some are having to deal with resurgences and localised lockdowns. It has been a very difficult time for businesses across all sectors.
“One key focus for them is the need to ensure they keep their people safe – managing the risks of Covid transmission and all other safety and health risks. Safety and health professionals are front and centre of this, guiding their businesses through these difficult times.
“Business leaders are turning to safety and health professionals to ensure they can navigate their way through this turbulent time. They want to ensure that they can protect their people, which, in turn, protects their business.
“The Covid-19 pandemic is unpredictable and provides us with uncertainty over what is going to happen in the next year. But the one thing we can be certain of is that IOSH will be side by side with its members and the businesses they work for.”
From the outset of the pandemic, IOSH has provided support for its members around the world, to help them guide their businesses on looking after their people. This has included an online resource hub, full of key information including how to reopen workplaces safely. The Institution has also run regular webinars.
James said to ensure the profession supports businesses into the future, it is crucial that it continues to recruit a high calibre of people, something he is keen to focus on in his Presidential year.
This, he said, can be done in two ways: through people seeking a career change moving into safety and health and through those starting their working life.
IOSH supports members new to the profession in a number of ways, including its Future Leaders Programme, competency framework, career hub, mentoring platform and Student Membership category.
James himself is an Army Veteran of two-and-a-half decades and said the support he received from IOSH and some of its members when he changed career was invaluable.
After leaving the Armed Forces, he joined Babcock International PLC as a Health, Safety and Environment Trainer, then Advisor, before becoming Health and Safety Manager for a large Middle East transport group.
James then became Area Occupational Health and Safety Manager for Multiplex in Abu Dhabi and is now Senior Health and Safety Manager for Multiplex in the UK. He is currently overseeing health and safety at Multiplex’s prestigious Broadway construction project in Westminster, London.
A Chartered Fellow of IOSH, James is also a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute and Vice-Chair of the IOSH Construction Group, the Institution’s largest specialist sector group.
“The guidance I received from IOSH helped me navigate the difficult transition into a new career. Without that support, I wouldn’t be speaking to you as President today, and I am grateful for that. I am keen that people who are starting out in the profession, whether it’s their first career or they’ve just made a career change, receive the same level of support as I did.”
James was confirmed as President for 2020-21 at the IOSH AGM. He succeeds Dr Andrew Sharman, who becomes Immediate Past President. Meanwhile Louise Hosking was confirmed as President-Elect and is due to become President in Autumn 2021.
Three new Vice-Presidents were also confirmed: Ciarán Delaney, Lawrence Webb and Neil Catton.
On Tuesday 3 November at 12pm GMT, watch James Quinn talk about plans for his Presidential year on the IOSH YouTube channel