Mutual ground

2 Sep

When you meet people for the first time, inevitably, there will be those twists and turns during the conversation as you and they try to find mutual ground and work out what you have in common and what you completely disagree on.

Moments when you realise you’re both on the same page, with shared ideas and goals, are comforting ones. Lifelong marriages are born in this way: “He loves the black liquorice Allsorts as well!” “She was also at my first ever concert!” And in the workplace, business and government, common ground is the most important thing in getting things done.

The British Safety Council had one of those productive meetings this week, as Neal Stone, director of policy and research has already blogged below. Our local MP, Andy Slaughter, visited us to discuss our work and his interests with Neal and our chief executive Alex Botha.

I sat in on the chat as we will be featuring it in the next issue of Safety Management and it was early in the conversation when we all realised there were more cornerstones of agreement and joint interests than not.

Community was an early theme in the discussion. We are obviously a local employer we discussed future developments in Hammersmith as well as our charity work and work with schools. Andy was very interested in our free health and safety qualifications and how that impacts on workplace safety as well as our campaigns Speak Up, Stay Safe and Changing Habits of a Lifetime.

The health and safety landscape has been changing a lot over the last year and this was something Alex, Andy and Neal delved into, with Alex explaining our position and the views of our members to reviews and consultations such as that of Löfstedt and HSE on RIDDOR. As the British Safety Council represented its members’ views on those reviews, Alex explained how the notion of health and safety as a ‘burden’ was perceived by them, as well as the problems of understanding ‘reasonably practicable’, especially for small and medium businesses.

As shadow justice minister, Andy was keen to talk about the Jackson proposals and changes to civil litigation. It is clear that in this already shifting landscape, more changes are coming and be assured the British Safety Council will share, explain and comment on all updates to its members.

It's good to talk: Andy and Alex at our HQ in Hammersmith this week

“We need to tackle the misuse, rather than say we don’t need it.” These were Andy’s words when the conversation turned to the negative perceptions of health and safety and how the media portray these stories. Everyone round the table was in agreement with Andy’s views and it was made clear the British Safety Council is a robust supporter of sensible and proportionate health and safety.

Positive and fruitful as the meeting was, it was also encouraging that issues the British Safety Council strives to keep on the health and safety agenda are also in the minds of those working in government. Fostering these relationships and communicating the outcomes to our members and the wider audience, is all part of our strategy and work.

Our conversations with government and MPs, bodies and unions enable us to feed in to them what is truly happening in workplaces around the world. In fact, in a couple of weeks, we will be meeting with Ann McKechin, shadow secretary of state for Scotland, about our work, our Scottish members’ responses to the House of Commons Scottish Affairs Committee inquiry into health and safety this year and what the British Safety Council does in her Glasgow North constituency.

But these meetings and conversations need you as well. Get in touch with us: here, through our website, on Twitter or Facebook. Any workplace health, safety and environmental issue, big or small, is important to us and part of the mutual ground we all share: that no one should be killed, injured or made ill by their work.

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