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Tie-up Improves Scotland's Health and Safety 

Glasgow conference set aim

Strengthening the partnership approach across Scotland’s health and safety system was the aim of a Glasgow conference earlier this week.

Hosted by RoSPA and supported by the Scottish Government, Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Healthy Working Lives (HWL), Scottish Hazards, Scottish Chamber of Safety and others, Wednesday's event sought ideas and commitments from attendees as to the part that they and their organisations could play to improve health, safety and work.

Table discussion - picture courtesy of RoSPA

The central theme of “acting together” was discussed in the context of delivering the Scottish Plan for Action on Safety and Health. Launched by the Partnership on Health and Safety in Scotland (PHASS) last year, the plan sets out the devastating impact that work-related fatal accidents, injury and ill-health have on individuals and families, the damage caused to businesses and the demands placed on the NHS and other public services. Indeed, the cost to the Scottish economy is estimated to be £1.04billion a year in health and care costs, loss of income and productivity.

The one-day conference, which took place at the Hilton Glasgow, was chaired by George Brechin, a non-executive board member of the HSE and chairman of PHASS. It featured an opening address by Clare Adamson MSP, convenor of the Cross Party Group on Accident Prevention and Safety Awareness at the Scottish Parliament.

Presentations were given by Martin Reid, unit head, Fairer Workplaces, Scottish Government; Martin Taulbut, public health information manager, NHS Scotland; Robert Atkinson, organisational lead (occupational health and safety), NHS Health Scotland, Health and Work Directorate, HWL; Dave Watson, head of policy and public affairs, Unison Scotland; and, Karen McDonnell, head of RoSPA Scotland and RoSPA’s occupational health and safety policy adviser.

Martin Reid, unit head, Fairer Workplaces, Scottish Government - picture courtesy of RoSPA

Ian Armstrong, health and safety manager, Multiplex Construction Europe, and Amanda Stewart, health and safety adviser, William Tracey Ltd, were both interviewed about their approach to preventing injuries and ill-health at work.

Discussion tables focused on the fair work agenda and its links to health and safety; health outcomes by occupation and industry in Scotland; and the health and safety needs of an ageing workforce.

Karen McDonnell said: “My hope is that the connections we made and strengthened through the conference will help us move forward as a health and safety community across Scotland. Going forward together is a great thing, and we have a great community. We now need to keep the pace going.”

Karen McDonnell, head of RoSPA Scotland and RoSPA’s occupational health and safety policy adviser - picture courtesy of RoSPA

Sarah Jones, head of the HSE’s Scotland Director’s Office, said: “The Scottish health and safety community has been acting together since our partnership was first established in 2005. Recently we've taken it to another level working across governments, business sectors, trade unions, professionals and the voluntary sector. That's what HSE's Helping GB Work Well strategy is all about. RoSPA's support in bringing everyone together at this conference cemented existing networks and created a platform for fresh ideas to improve health, safety and work."

Main Picture: Martin Taulbut, public health information manager, NHS Scotland - Courtesy of RoSPA

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Accidents are the biggest threat to you and your family for most your life. In fact, more than 14,000 people die as a result of accidents across the UK each year, while thousands more are maimed and millions are injured. Businesses are ruined. Families are devastated. Children grow up without parents, parents without children. Yet despite the scale and severity of the problem, accidents are still too often discussed with a shrug of the shoulders. There is a pervasive belief amongst some people that accidents are somehow inevitable. That they can't be stopped. Imagine if we took the same attitude towards child abuse. Or cancer. For almost 100 years, RoSPA has been quietly working behind the scenes to change both legislation and attitudes surrounding accidents. From the compulsory wearing of seatbelts and the campaign to stop drink driving, to the Cycling Proficiency Test and to the more recent ban on handheld mobile phones behind the wheel, RoSPA has been instrumental in shaping our society for the better, preventing millions of deaths and serious injuries along the way. As a registered charity, we are committed to continuing this legacy of change.