UK Health and Safety Week 2015 is Launched

Everyone knows that it is all too easy to sideline the issue of Health and Safety so the announcement of this year’s UK Health and Safety Week at a meeting earlier this month has been widely welcomed. The focus this year will be Protecting Worker Health. The launch event this March featured presentations from Lawrence Waterman, the director of Health and Safety for the Battersea Power Station Development; Steve Perkins, who heads up the British Occupational Hygiene Society and Gareth Mullen, who is in charge of Health, Safety and Wellbeing at Thames Water. The venue – the UBM new building at 240 Blackfriars in London – suited these keynote speakers very well and response was excellent among the fifty delegates.

A moving address

The meeting was moved by an address from Linda Lakin, who was diagnosed with mesothelioma just over a year ago. She spoke very personally about her feelings of shock and disbelief when told of her diagnosis, which she could only link to exposure when she worked at a dry-cleaners’ in the 1970s. Her doctors told her that her exposure could well have been low – just three or four fibres can cause mesothelioma in some people and of course there is no ‘control’ group to see if a particular person will be affected. Her story very much underlined the importance of health and safety courses for all businesses – it is impossible to be too careful when it comes to safeguarding the health of employees for whom every employer has a duty of care. Linda asked that every delegate at the meeting would go back to their workplace and run a ‘health week’ of their own in their businesses, mirroring the Health and Safety week, 15-19 June, in order to raise awareness across the country.

Figures are very frightening, but can be improved upon

Heather Beach, Director, OSH Global, UBM EMEA welcomed delegates with a speech. She told them that her company was ‘delighted to kick-off UK Health & Safety Week 2015,’ and said, further, that it was ‘great to feel such partnership in the industry between key stakeholders all committed to raise the profile of occupational health. With an estimated 13,000 people a year dying of health issues resulting from the workplace, the challenge is multi-faceted. Workers and the public need informing that this is happening; businesses need to understand the case for health when long latency can provide an excuse to tackle it, and professionals in our industry need upskilling to deal with it.’ The biggest threat to health and safety within the workplace is employee ignorance and the need for adequate training cannot be overemphasised.

Wide support from industry

The British Safety Council (BSC) is just one of the high profile supporters of the UK Health and Safety Week in June. They are joined by the British Safety Industry Federation (BSIF); the Association for Project Safety (APS); The Association of Occupational Health Nurse Practitioners (UK) (AOHNP [UK]); the British Occupational Hygiene Society (BOHS); the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH); International Institute of Risk and Safety Management (IIRSM); Institute of Risk Management; NEBOSH; RoSPA and Safety Groups UK. If your business would like to get involved too, you can find all you need to know at