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Making the world safer and healthier

Mike Robinson

British Safety Council executives speak at the 21st World Congress on Safety & Health at Work 

THE chief executive of the British Safety Council and its chairman designate were in Singapore last week to explore the nature of well-being at work and the practical management of workplace risks at the 21st World Congress on Safety & Health at Work 2017.

The triennial event, which took place from 3–6 September, brought together occupational health and safety professionals, business leaders and government officials from all over the world to share their knowledge and expertise in making workplaces safer and healthier.

It is estimated that 2.3 million workers worldwide die every year because of workplace accidents and work-related diseases. Further estimates from the International Labour Organization (ILO) show that every day, 6,400 people die from occupational accidents and diseases, and 860,000 are injured at work.

ILO director general Guy Ryder said: ‘As well as appalling consequences for workers and their families, this represents a colossal social and economic burden on enterprises, communities and countries. Most occupational deaths and diseases are preventable and it would be a mistake to cut back on occupational safety and health, even in the face of economic downturn. Occupational safety and health is a basic human right as well as a labour right.’

Speaking on 5 September, at the ‘Well-being through Work’ session hosted by the National Safety Council (USA), Mike Robinson, chief executive of the British Safety Council (pictured), presented the business case for managing health and well-being in the workplace, and explored the nature of workplace well-being.

He said: ‘While the business case for managing safety is well documented and understood, the case for managing health and well-being is just as compelling, but the progress is not as strong.

‘Health conditions are much more difficult to define and manage. That’s why businesses need to adopt a holistic approach to promoting well-being and the resilience of their staff.

‘Progress in relation to health and well-being can only be made when organizations move beyond the need to comply with regulations and inspire employees to engage in well-being because this benefits them as well as their companies.’

Lawrence Waterman OBE, who will take up his post as chairman at the British Safety Council on 24 November, spoke at the World Congress on 4 September, at the session entitled ‘A culture of prevention on OSH’.

Drawing on the lessons of the London 2012 Olympic Games construction programme, which achieved a low accident rate and no fatalities, he demonstrated how to effectively manage health risks in construction through good design and early interventions on issues such as mental health.

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