A greater degree of understanding
With universities becoming increasingly commercial and innovative institutions, OSH is now firmly on the Higher Education syllabus. That's certainly been the case at the University of Huddersfield, renowned for its research in subjects including biomedical sciences, engineering and physical sciences.
"Unlike many other universities, specific professional health and safety advisers within our academic schools and support services is minimal," explains Gary Wood, Health and Safety Adviser at University of Huddersfield. "IOSH's Managing Safely training was therefore viewed as ideal to assist those with local health and safety coordination roles and management responsibilities. We wanted a flexible accredited resource that was of international renown and could be adapted to best suit our needs, especially in terms of scheduling."
In January 2011, the University began delivering IOSH's Managing Safely training. Gary reports that it immediately proved popular, with delegates praising the "good mix of taught material, interactive animations and discussions"; "real issues discussing the way health and safety is delivered locally" and "helpful development of health and safety relating to our workload and expelled myths."
The delegates also reported positive feedback about the different elements of Managing Safely: assessing and controlling risks, understanding responsibilities and hazards, investigating incidents, and measuring performance.
For instance, Professor Stephen Donnelly (Dean at the School of Computing and Engineering) undertook Managing Safely training because he was responsible for a research laboratory with many diverse areas of risk. "Knowledge of the course spread by word-of-mouth and we had staff members volunteering to join," comments Professor Donnelly. "In addition, our international research staff will take this learning back to their home countries to help prevent accidents at universities around the world which can only be good."
Meanwhile, Dr Simon Barrans, a Reader in Turbocharger Engineering is equally enthusiastic about Managing Safely: "Not only did it clarify what the processes needed to be (and how simple they actually were), it also dispelled some of the more ridiculous notions about health and safety."
Gary Wood believes that Managing Safely has really challenged people's perceptions of health and safety. "The IOSH training actually makes their working lives easier and they experience that themselves and then spread the word – the big difference now is that individuals proactively want to undertake the training."
Overall, the University of Huddersfield's commitment to Managing Safely delivers three vital aims: enhancing the university's health and safety reputation; widening stakeholder engagement with health and safety; and ensuring efficient and effective risk management processes.
Widening the scope of IOSH involvement
The University of Huddersfield is now working with IOSH beyond the research facilities in two key ways.
Firstly by partnering with its Students' Union to offer relevant help and advice to clubs and societies on campus: "With the activities covered ranging from gaming to rock climbing, it shows how the diversity of Managing Safely's course content can work across so many different scenarios," reports Gary.
Secondly, the University is looking to bring IOSH courses into its educational programmes. "This might mean exploring exciting new ways to integrate OSH training within the academic world. For our students, it would prove a solid grounding for their future careers.
"With IOSH's support, we're continuing to build on the health and safety culture we've already created here," concludes Gary. "I firmly believe Managing Safely has helped training to be transformational rather than just transactional."
The University of Huddersfield attracts nearly 20,000 students and became the Times Higher Education University of the Year in 2013. Judges highlighted the University's outstanding record for student satisfaction and employability with the University placed in the top ten in the UK in both categories. It is also a centre of research and excellence, and has a growing reputation as a leader in the field of enterprise. www.hud.ac.uk.