25 Apr 2018

IOSH 2018: Safety in Formula One: hear from Mark Gallagher at IOSH 2018

Mark Gallagher has held senior management roles within Formula One motor racing for three decades. This year he will be among speakers at IOSH 2018. What will you be speaking about at IOSH 2018? I will be speaking about how motor sport in general, and Formula One in particular, has made safety its central priority and used a combination of changes to culture, processes and technology to dramatically reduce the number of fatalities and serious accidents.  Ultimately the goal is to achieve zero fatalities, and I will be explaining not only how far we have come, but the obstacles that remain. Why did you want to speak at the conference? Given IOSH’s commitment to helping to create a safer and healthier world of work I feel that the profound changes in safety within Formula One is a story that is important to share, with important lessons learned and valuable insights to be provided.  It is also a privilege to have the opportunity to speak at the conference and to be able to contribute to the event. Why do you think health and safety is important to a business? In Formula One we recognise that our people are our most important asset; for all the technology you hear about, in reality that is simply a tool.  It is the people who run our businesses, implement our strategies and execute our plans.  As a result, we want to ensure that we offer them in return an environment in which their safety, wellbeing and health is protected and indeed enhanced.  I am often asked how to build winning teams, and part of the answer is by creating a caring culture which ensures that our staff can safely return to their families at the end of each day. What are the main health and safety challenges you encounter in your work? There are a wide range of risks within Formula One and the world of motor sport, and often quite different to the risks you might image. Of course there is a lot of focus on the competitors, the drivers, but in reality we have a wide range of stakeholders and audiences whom we have to protect; the mechanics, engineers and team personnel, the track support staff, officials, media, fans and general public attending races.  Beyond that we face the fact that 10% of our employees travel extensively, with all of the issues that arise from that including renting hire cars in foreign countries and operating in countries which experience extremes of temperature. Finally most of our people work in our factory and headquarters facilities, with all of the workplace health and safety demands that engenders.  As a result, the safety story from our perspective is wide ranging and holistic within our business operations. How are these managed? The safety culture is driven top down, but the leadership of the sport and the individual leaders within each team.  On a day to day operational level, each team has its own health and safety management, but perhaps most importantly we share best practice across the industry and work closely with our regulator to ensure that standards are met and continuously improved.  We also ensure that safety is not a box-ticking exercise but a set of cultural behaviours and values that every worker understands and embraces. Given the importance of safety within Formula One, all teams seek to operate at the same high level, and by working closely together as an industry we aim to ensure that we avoid have some islands of excellence in a sea of mediocrity. Mark is Founder and CEO of Performance Insights Ltd. He is also co-commentator and Formula One analyst for broadcasters including the BBC, ESPN and Sky Sports F1. People who book their conference place before 21 July will save up to £150 with the early bird discount.

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