IOSH 2017: All change! All change!

by: Lawrence Waterman, Founding Partner, Park Health and Safety Partnership 22 Jun 2017

We are living in an uncertain and ever changing time. Across the world organisations are facing new and unforeseen changes. The challenge is to recognise and deal with the impact at a local, national and global level.  Trump, Mexican walls, hung parliaments, the Qatar blockade …. wherever we look strength and stability are absent.

What’s new may have its biggest impact at work. Workers may not have freedom to work where they want, as barriers to the freedom of movement are put in place and countries adopt fortress thinking. Attracting and retaining skills and talent could become harder for organisations at all levels. We will need to think carefully (and differently) about what we can offer potential workers to make ourselves attractive and stand out from the crowd. Finding out what workers expect from us will be key to ensuring we become ‘go to’ organisations. Working practices, flexible hours or working from home may all form part of the mix – but does that mean the Uber zero hours model? The working environment we offer and culture of the businesses we run will become more important than ever if we want the best people.

There are also business opportunities, taking advantage of this period of uncertainty, as well as risks. Organisations will review their trading partners, explore new markets both near and far, to survive. Suppliers and customers have to feel valued so making plans to strengthen relationships will be important. And change can have huge financial implications requiring robust yet adaptable business models and plans for the future.

So, what about the impact on OSH? Here again, uncertainty. We’re yet to know exactly what the impact will be on working practices and regulatory systems. We don’t know how the values which underpin OSH may be reflected in any future legislation, locally and globally. Changes to global standards may impact OSH and therefore, every workplace. I believe that such important issues as these should be discussed so we can gauge and engage with others’ opinions, be part of a wider debate.  We may need to act!

This is why, during IOSH 2017, I will be chairing an interactive panel debate titled ‘Populism, Brexit and H&S in a changing world’.  During the session I will be inviting a panel to discuss their positions, fears and hopes for the future before opening up the floor to delegates. In doing so I hope to stimulate discussion, debate and perhaps even challenge thinking in order to inform and increase awareness.  It’s a debate that I believe everyone should be getting involved in at the conference, so why not come along, engage and have your say?

Lawrence Waterman, Founding Partner, Park Health and Safety Partnership

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