Three days to save a life

The Health & Safety Event provides the perfect networking and educational opportunity to anyone responsible for running a safe and efficient workplace, anywhere in the UK. Government Business previews March’s conference and exhibition

Public sector delegates at The Health & Safety Event can look forward to a wider array of seminars, features and exhibitors than ever before. The 2017 conference and exhibition, which runs from 21-23 March at Birmingham NEC, aims to provide central and local government professionals with an unparalleled insight into the latest trends and developments affecting the health and safety sector.

Organiser Western Business Exhibitions has expanded the event once again, adding new features to the programme and building more alliances with industry organisations to ensure a valuable visitor experience. The event shares its location with three other exhibitions that represent related industries – Maintec 2017, Facilities Management 2017 and the newly-launched Fire Safety Event, which makes its debut this year – enabling visitors to maximise the value of their visit to the NEC.

New for 2017
New features of The Health and Safety Event include an exciting partnership with the British Safety Industry Federation (BSIF), which has chosen to stage the BSIF Safety Awards at the event for the first time. The BSIF will invite entrants in its Product Innovation Awards to pitch their products to a judging panel in front of a live audience before announcing the winners.

The British Safety Council has curated the main conference programme, which has been designed to support the continuing professional development (CPD) of delegates. Best practice guidance will be shared across key industry topics such as workplace wellbeing, personal resilience, embedding a health and safety culture, mental health and legal compliance, while the impacts of Brexit will also be explored.

Additionally, the event’s Safety Dialogue Theatre, sponsored by 3M and the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), continues to expand its line-up, with seminars covering respiratory hazards, training and competence, hearing, fall protection and the groundbreaking Locher Project, which is aimed at encouraging younger people to champion health and safety issues. A line-up of respected panellists will debate these prominent issues in a series of lively discussions.

The third seminar platform, Safer Logistics, sponsored by A-Safe and Toyota, offers a programme of seminars providing practical advice on overcoming safety challenges surrounding warehouse and forklift operations. Another area of discussion will be load integrity on HGVs and vans, and how the police, together with the Driver Vehicle Standards Agency, are being trained to carry out stop and inspect operations. Experts believe this will lead to more inspections and prosecutions going forward. Seminars will be led by both sponsors, as well as industry organisations – the Health and Safety Laboratory (HSL), the Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport (CILT), the Fork Lift Truck Association (FLTA) and the Regulatory Body for Workplace Transport Training (RTITB). The BSIF and United Kingdom Warehousing Association (UKWA) will also be lending their support. The aim of the Safer Logistics is to encourage managers in the supply chain to take a proactive approach to safety.

Meanwhile, the NEBOSH Education Pavillion, managed by the National Examination Board of Safety and Health, serves as a central point providing access to a multitude of training providers. This area of the exhibition, centred around a café, has an ‘Ask The Expert’ feature and will also offer enhanced opportunities for networking.

Introducing the main conference programme, Louise Ward, policy, standards and communications director at the British Safety Council, explained: “We recognise that many delegates come and sit in all of the seminar sessions during the day because they want to build their CPD. What we’ve tried to do is balance this year’s educational programme so that each day delegates get the opportunity to experience a variety of educational presentations, including legal updates, interactive sessions and best practice case studies. We’ve also deliberately chosen to run with three one-hour sessions each day so that delegates can easily attend the other theatre sessions and really get the most out of all of the presentations on offer.”

This year’s event offers visitors a wealth of industry expertise, which reflects the latest thought leadership, key developments in legislation and policy and practice as well as important insights into technological innovations.

Conference sessions
Setting the scene on the first morning, Chris Green, a partner at leading law firm Weightmans, will deliver an overview of recent health and safety prosecutions. A year on from its introduction, he will pay particular attention to the impact of the sentencing guidelines over the past 12 months and what the prosecution trend could mean for businesses going forward.

Drawing on the positive delegate feedback received at Health and Safety North in 2016, Mark Davies will present a thought-provoking and highly interactive session that focuses on building personal resilience and the importance of rest and recovery. The director at consultancy 7Futures will draw on his extensive experience of working with elite performers, sports personalities and the military to explain how delegates can manage rest and recovery to maximise their wellbeing and effectiveness.

Davies said: “Harvard Business School says that a person’s resilience, more than education, experience and training, will determine who succeeds and fails. But how can we work with resilience to proactively manage performance without compromising people’s health and well-being?”

Founder of the RyderMarsh consultancies, esteemed author and culture change guru Professor Tim Marsh closes the first day with a spotlight on well-being in the workplace. Tim has developed a toolkit on well-being and will offer guidance on how best to address this important issue before going on to provide handy case studies to illustrate good practice.

He explained: “Well-being is such a bigger area than safety with far more of a win: win potential. A typical worker is something like 35 times more likely to attend the funeral of a colleague who has committed suicide rather than been killed in an accident. Also empowerment and engagement rates lag well behind the G7 average. Studies worldwide suggest that it’s being tackled piecemeal and often without applying the hard won lessons from safety. I’ll be arguing that we need a holistic, practical and co-ordinated approach – just like the best safety work.”

The second day kicks off with a fascinating case study from Sue Greatorex and Richard Byrne of BSS Industrial, part of Travis Perkins Plc. In this session, the commercial director and safety director will highlight the innovative work that BSS is undertaking to achieve effective collaboration with its key supply chain partners on health and safety.

Delegates will be particularly interested in the next session – an interactive panel debate chaired by the British Safety Council’s Louise Ward, which brings together a trio of experts from both sides of the legal fence. With senior representatives from law firms Weightmans and Pinsent Masons and a leading figure from the UK watchdog, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the three panellists will highlight and discuss key emerging trends in regulation before opening up the floor to the audience.

Chris Green returns from Weightmans to highlight the HSE’s highly controversial fee for intervention, the sentencing guidelines and new developments emerging from the health and safety regulator’s 2016 strategy.

He said: “Many people don’t appreciate that the HSE’s strategy focus on occupational health is being implemented in the same way as accident prevention, namely by criminal investigation PACE interview and then through enforcement notices and prosecutions. We have seen a few of the first cases where some of the early breaches of the offences are coming through the courts and some of the fines are really high. As a delegate, you’d realise that if you used to be more focused on the prevention of accidents, you’ve now got to be looking at all of the occupational health side of things in the same depth as well and the costs of getting it wrong can be higher than ever.”

Kevin Bridges, Partner at Pinsent Masons, will touch on Brexit and its potential impact in the medium-to-long term. He’ll also emphasise the new sentencing guidelines, how it is playing out and the recent level of fines, arguing that ‘the guidelines should act as an incentive for business to invest properly in good health and safety compliance’.

Bringing the second day to a close, behavioural safety and culture change expert Mark Ormond, director at Tribe, will offer a fascinating presentation on the role of effective conversations in driving improvements in health and safety culture and performance.

Ormond commented: “Most people get the importance of health and safety conversations. They understand the link between that and improving the safety culture, behaviour and performance. The biggest challenge I find when speaking to businesses is that they don’t realise how hard it is to get it right.”

The show's finale
The third, and final, day kicks off with an increasingly important and topical health and safety issue. Launched in January, initially in the construction sector, Mates in Mind is a new mental health initiative, which aims to raise awareness of the prevalence of mental health in the UK. Sponsored by the British Safety Council, the initiative highlights how organisations can play an important role in supporting mental health well-being for their workforce. A speaker from the charity, Mates in Mind, will explain how the initiative will work and outline the help and support that is available for workers.

Delegates will want to stay around for the second, and final, session at this year’s event – a two-hour mock trial, which gives audience members the unique opportunity to experience a court room situation first hand. Divided into two parts, the trial follows an accident on a construction site that leaves a worker suffering from concussion and broken bones. Audience members will then listen to witnesses present their evidence and hear the judge sum up the proceedings before taking on the role of the jury and casting their guilty or not guilty vote.

Led by a team of specialist health and safety lawyers from Pinsent Masons, this fascinating finale to this year’s event will conclude with a wider discussion with the audience, during which the legal team will run through the reasoning behind the final sentence and explore the key legal principles involved.

As well as the free educational content at the event, the major draw at the Health and Safety Event is a fast growing exhibition area where the leading names in health and safety will showcase their wares. Major equipment vendors, service providers and distributors all have experts available to answer queries regarding the latest products and services.

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