Having just returned from the great city of Birmingham (more canals than Venice – who knew?!) I thought I’d share some of my personal highlights, the things I found most memorable and those I intend to follow up back at iHasco.
Early on day one Bev Messinger, Chief Executive of IOSH, kicked off with a great speech that culminated in the launch of a new qualification and pathway to IOSH Technical Membership – the IOSH Level 3 Certificate in Safety and Health for Business. As a relatively new member myself, this sounded great and probably would’ve been my preferred method of study had it been available last year. I’ll certainly be considering this, as our plan is for more iHasco staff to achieve the qualifications necessary for IOSH Technical membership.
Bev also made a profound impact with a personal story - the tragic and recent loss of a family member to a workplace incident - proving without a doubt, as if there was any, of the importance of what we do and how it affects anyone.
Bev was followed that morning by another powerful presentation given by Geoff McDonald, Executive Director of Open Minds Health. Geoff made his speech without notes and I was blown away by his passion for improving mental health in the workplace. His message was simple enough – everyone in every workplace should feel able to ask for help if they’re suffering from poor mental health, or an illness such as anxiety or depression.
Now, we believe that we offer good support for our staff but I immediately resolved to do even more. Perhaps someone here hasn’t asked for help when they needed it and I would consider that a failing. For any unconvinced reader, the way in which Geoff linked a positive approach to mental health to an increase in employee ENERGY and subsequently to a competitive advantage, should pretty much seal it!
Without a doubt, mental health and wellbeing was the most prevalent theme across the conference and we will be focussing very much on this in 2018 with two brand new courses and an update of our Stress Awareness course already planned. After speaking with many of you and discovering that this issue is a high priority, we plan on giving you some fantastic training resources to help. You can pre-register interest in our Mental Health Awareness Course here.
Aside from our own wonderful stand, highlights from other exhibitors included:
- Superb sit/stand desks from Bennett Workplace Solutions. We really believe in these desks and it’s not unusual to find over half of our team standing up whilst working at any given moment. They play an important role in reducing the risk of injury from DSE and encourage measurable improvement in productivity. Unfortunately, we hadn’t heard of Bennett so have been using a competitors product. We will be switching as the Bennett desks we’re more aesthetically pleasing, a little easier and smoother to operate and competitively priced!
- Mind who provide advice and support for anyone experiencing a mental health problem and campaign to promote understanding.
- dorsaVi who showed me some pretty incredible wearable technology that provides objective data and a better understanding of how a workforce moves to bring about a reduction in injury risks associated with Manual Handling.
The final highlight for me was a presentation on Tuesday afternoon on Visual Literacy. It actually sounded so simple in the presentation but, ironically, is fairly difficult to put into words! But I’m a trier! Essentially, as health & safety professionals, we’ve seen a lot so there’s a danger of our minds starting to make assumptions when we’re looking at something. But by altering the way we look at things, we may just see more.
As an audience, we were asked to focus on lines, shapes, textures, colour and space when viewing a typical scene of a workspace and I think the whole room was surprised when we began to see hazards a little more clearly by using this technique, than we might have done if we hadn't. For example, by focussing on texture we noticed that the hard, shiny floor could be a slip hazard - particularly for the ladder in view. This might seem obvious, but I had missed it previously. Then by focusing on the colour, we noticed the absence of yellow hard hats on some of the employees in the scene. We also took note of the light and wondered whether it was adequate for the work being carried out… Trust me, it was fascinating and it's well worth a Google!
In summary, this was my first IOSH exhibition but it will not be my last. It was great to meet some clients, the odd competitor, some contacts at IOSH I’ve spoken with for months but never actually met, and to share some thoughts with fellow members. The next one is already in the diary.