You have probably seen the announcement that SHP Online and Safety & Health Expo have collaborated to introduce ‘New Safety and Health’. This is a campaign essentially focused on changing the perceptions of the health and safety industry and, in doing so, redefining the role of the health and safety professional and inspiring the next generation.
This is to be applauded. And it’s much needed. We covered this topic in our post last year Why Has H&S Got a Bad Rap? which explored the three main areas that fuel negativity: incorrect perceptions, poor on-the-ground implementation and media sensationalism.
What struck us most about the ‘New Safety and Health’ announcement was the aim of ‘inspiring the next generation’ which, in turn, started the wheels turning on what inspired the current generation of health and safety professionals? Indeed, who are they (you)?
The last state of the industry survey by SHP was in 2016 and was completed by 1,274 health and safety professionals. This clearly showed the demographic as 70% male, 90% white, 60% over 45 years of age, and only 11% of respondents between the ages of 18 and 34.
The average age of the health and safety professional was 48.2 years and the average experience in health and safety was just over 15 years, indicating that health and safety was a second career for the majority of people. The survey did look at what people did before making the move into health and safety but without drawing meaningful conclusions. That said, there is some useful data in the survey that is worth checking out.
Health and safety professionals are a dedicated group of people and it’s likely that for many the decision to move into the industry was a vocation, a calling. Is that enough to inspire the next generation? Is that enough to change the demographic?
One thing that can have a major impact and which should become a recruitment rallying call is the ever increasing use of technology in health and safety and the innovation around it.
ISO 45001 recognises the shift and talks about ‘documented information’ and the use of the cloud as an enhancement over the essentially paper-based OHSAS 18001.
We’re seeing: sensors being used in PPEs; lone worker devices; dynamic RAMS in the field; e-permits; cobots; virtual reality; augmented reality; artificial intelligence; predictive analytics; e-learning; the IoT and Industry 4.0 being used in smart factories; drones; and machine learning all in use today. The innovations are extensive and yet we’re only in the very early stages. As Jeff Bezos says of the internet, “It’s still day 1.”
We’ve covered the technologies listed above in our eBook, Safety Digitally – How Technology Can Help Break Through the Health and Safety Statistical Plateau which you can download via the link.
The point of this post is not to repeat that information but to highlight the role that technology can play in recruiting the next generation to the health and safety profession – whether directly as health and safety professionals trying to figure out how to incorporate this new technology safely into the workplace and how to innovate around the use of that technology; or perhaps in the supply chain of material, equipment and software providers producing products that keep people safe.
These are exciting times for health and safety. The hard hat has not been replaced, but artificial intelligence is here to stay. How are you going to use it?