Networks Volunteers Conference 2020 highlights

IOSH brought together networks volunteers from around the globe as it hosted its first-ever virtual conference.

Using a modern virtual platform, the Networks Volunteers Conference was held on 3 and 10 November, with workshops, masterclasses and TED talks held on the days in between.

In all, 192 volunteers took part in the sessions, while there were a total of 560 one-to-one meetings and chat messages among volunteers and staff clinics.

The conference was exclusively aimed at IOSH branch, group, section and district committee volunteers and was themed ‘Future-proofing the OSH profession’. Before the official opening of the first day, IOSH Immediate Past President Andrew Sharman presented a review of his presidential year before welcoming James Quinn as the new President of IOSH for 2020-2021.

James gave a welcome speech which looked at the year ahead and the themes he intends to take forward during his presidency. He said:

“It really is a crucial time for occupational safety and health around the world.

“Businesses are recovering from Covid-19 and adapting to new ways of working. Business leaders are coming to us, occupational safety and health professionals, for advice and support, whether it's how to manage transmission risk on site or ensuring people are safe and healthy while working remotely. We need to ensure that we're able to answer the call for help.”

He added that professionals coming together to network is crucial to ensuring they can answer this call, adding:

“It is unfortunate we haven’t been able to be together physically. But there isn’t much we can do about that. What we can do, however, is explore new ways of bringing everyone together and I am delighted we have been able to do this over the past week or so.”

The conference was officially opened by IOSH Chief Executive Bev Messinger and James Quinn.

There were updates from IOSH, including details of how the Institution has responded to the Covid-19 pandemic, how Networks will fit into future plans of the WORK 2022 strategy, and what is already being planned that the Networks can look forward to getting involved in such as the Membership Grades, Level 3 qualification and the IOSH and ISSA Vision Zero collaboration.

There was also a session on ‘Successful engagement in a virtual world’ which focused on virtual formats of communication and engagement, best practice and examples of successful virtual engagement on a global level.

The day concluded with a panel discussion focussing on internal updates arising from a consultation at last year’s Networks Conference; including discussing the Volunteer Agreement, potential changes to regulation and operational guidance, content development and member services.

Day two began with a session on ‘Future-proofing the OSH profession’, which focused on putting the Networks under three lenses of horizon scanning. It also gave an update on current projects falling under horizon scanning, the future of the OSH profession and the  professional, and where the future of IOSH fits in it all.

‘One IOSH and the collaborative approach – a united front’ was the next session which shared best practice and offered tips around collaborations across the Networks. It provided guidance on what the Networks should be focussing on for a coordinated and efficient approach to deliver objectives to meet members’ needs. In addition, there were a range of workshops, masterclasses and TED talks. These sessions were run as 30-minute webinars on 4, 5 and 6 November.

IOSH Director of Professional Services Vanessa Harwood-Whitcher, said:

“I’d like thank all our volunteers for attending the first virtual Network Volunteers Conference 2020. We hope that you’ve had a fantastic conference and enjoyed being a part of it.

“The value of coming together to share and learn cannot be overstated. Of course, because of the pandemic, we weren’t able to meet face-to-face, but I am delighted we have been able to make use of technology to come together in the virtual space.

“With the conference sessions, the staff clinics, the opportunity to hold meetings, along with the masterclasses, workshops and TED talks, there was so much opportunity to connect with each other, no matter what role you play in Networks or where you are located in the world.”

  • Watch the Presidential handover here

Could you be an IOSH volunteer?

Are you a member who would like to become involved in conferences like this, or play a role on the committee of your local branch or relevant sector group? There are many ways you can get involved as a volunteer for IOSH. Find out more by visiting our dedicated webpage here.



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