So this is Christmas…

Neil HartleyHealth & Safety Issues/TrendsLeave a Comment

Merry Christmas from Alcumus

…and what have you done? Another year over, and a new one just begun.

A year that began with such optimism, not least on these pages with our 2020 Vision – 3 Reasons to be Cheerful review of UK health and safety, ends with, well, what?

Did we just have the worst year ever? It seems that way but, as Jeremy Vine pointed out in this week’s The Spectator, “…all these comparisons ignore the simple reality that the important events of our lives occur in private space. For me, 2020 is the worst year since 2018, when my father died.”

Some perspective right there. It seems, private space allowing, that there are times when we come to a fork in the road and are faced with a choice: pessimism or optimism. We’re signing out as we started by taking the road to optimism.

Firstly, there were the 2019/20 UK worker fatality statistics which showed a dramatic drop from the plateau of 140-150 annual deaths in prior years down to 111. Of course, that’s still 111 too many but a significant drop all the same. Did Covid-19 play a role? Given the year ending was March 31st that doesn’t seem plausible. We covered the provisional statistics and potential causes for the reduction in worker fatalities here.

The next cause for optimism would be the increasingly supportive attitudes to mental health in society and specifically the workplace. Mental wellbeing remains a massive, likely growing, issue. The UK construction industry alone sees the order of 500 worker suicides annually. Let’s view that for a moment in the context of the 111 worker fatalities from ‘physical’ causes…

It was encouraging to read Bill Hill, CEO of the Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity, calling for the abolition of Mental Health Awareness days. Why? Bill said, “Well, the year we cancel World Mental Health Day will be because the mental health of our workforce is treated as significantly and comes as naturally as ensuring their physical safety.”

The first step in removing the stigma associated with mental health has been taken. Bill and others are doing sterling work in shining a light on and delivering valuable resources to improve mental wellbeing. You can play your part too. If you have team members working from home, call them and ask how they’re doing. Do it now, they’ll thank you for it.

Then there’s the optimism to be gained from SHP’s Rising Star Awards. Lucilla Cummings of Travis Perkins won the overall award. Health and Safety needs a constant influx of young people committed to producing better outcomes, both in terms of our mental wellbeing and our physical safety. Congratulations to Lucilla and all of the other category winners.

It wasn’t difficult to find 3 reasons for optimism in UK health and safety. I feel better for opting for the road to optimism and also for the fact that my private space allowed it.

That’s it for 2020. Merry Christmas to one all and here’s to an optimistic New Year. Private space allowing, of course.

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