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Together we can make a real difference

Date posted
03 August 2023
Vanessa Harwood-Whitcher
Estimated reading time
3 minute read

IOSH Chief Executive Vanessa Harwood-Whitcher looks back on a busy first few months since the launch of IOSH’s new strategy and what it means for the Institution, its members and the profession.

“Activate 2028 reflects how our profession is very much one of action, one of positive energy and a desire to make things better.”

Those were the words I used when I introduced our new strategy earlier this year. And we’ve started as we mean to go on.

Supporting our members

As I also pointed out at the launch of Activate 2028, it is a strategy for everyone; we all have a role to play in delivering it and, as a result, in helping to make the world of work safe and healthy.

Our members on the ground around the world are united by their drive to look after people, to prevent them from coming to harm at work. That’s what gets them out of bed in the morning. And helping them to do their job to the best of their ability is what gets us out of our beds.

That’s why we are collaborating with big global players such as the World Health Organization, the International Labour Organization and the International Social Security Association.

By attending – and speaking at – the conferences we have, such as the ORP Congress in Bilbao, Spain, and the International Labour Conference, and
by being granted Special Consultative Status by the United Nations Economic and Social Council, we are influencing at the highest level and showcasing the work our members are doing and the difference they are making.

Similarly, that’s why we are working with big business, meeting with large corporates and working with them to put occupational safety and health (OSH) high on the agenda for their boards. This will eventually work its way down their supply chains and into SMEs.

Building capacity

Of course, we recognise that for all of this work to be successful, we need to ensure there is the capacity to deliver it around the world.

Coupled with the fact a safe and healthy working environment is now recognised by the International Labour Organization as a fundamental principle and right at work, there is more of an onus on businesses to protect people – and increased recognition of the value of OSH.  

This is where our commercial area really comes into its own. While it’s crucial that it brings in the revenue which supports IOSH in meeting is charitable objects, it does so much more than that.

Over one million people received IOSH training throughout the course of our last strategy, including in excess of 200,000 in 2022 alone.

This looks set to continue throughout the life of Activate 2028, and there’s much more to come as we roll out high-quality qualifications through our Awarding Organisation, all of which goes toward building capacity, raising standards and – ultimately – protecting people globally.

Working together

All of this leads me back to our members and the role they play, and the dedication shown by our volunteers, who take the time to attend events, stage meetings and support others as well as IOSH.

To return to one of my original points, we all have a role to play. We’re influencing at the highest level and building capacity and our members are delivering on the ground.

At the time we launched Activate 2028, we were clear it’s not only a strategy about action but one for everyone. Together, we can make a difference and protect people’s lives and livelihoods at work.

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Last updated: 31 January 2024

Vanessa Harwood-Whitcher

Job role
Chief Executive


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