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Positioning the risk and safety profession in a post-Covid world, Logan Holmes
Date of Issue: Friday, 17 September, 2021
Runner-up of IIRSM 2021 Young Leaders' Essay Competition
A post-Covid world… a concept that wouldn’t have crossed our minds back in 2020 when all methods of control did little to slow down the spread of the Virus. Now here we are, we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel and contemplate what ‘real life’ is. Does this now mean that we can revert everything we have implemented over the past year? What does this mean for everything that has been affected by the series of lockdowns we have managed to endure? Well, I’m going to tell you, or at least try to.
One thing I always mention to those who have had the ‘’pleasure’’ of working with me is that, ‘’The risk is always present in everything we do, it’s a case of whether you choose to notice it or not’’. Now, I’m not claiming to be an influencer, but it is really the truth, I believe that this is a good portrayal of the safety profession. The world had become complacent regarding safety, it became an everyday ‘chore’ for most and not something that we should want to do for both ourselves and those around us. The Covid crisis brough a new meaning to the word ‘safety’, it demonstrated how things can go from 0-100 very quickly. Highlighting those who neglected the investment in safety in the past.
I believe that the safety profession is a niche profession amongst the contemporary youth in society. It has never been a direct career path before due to the lack of marketing and advertising where it matters the most. Now that the pandemic has completely changed the way the world works, this is the perfect opportunity for the Industry to develop and reach out. This is something I know from experience as I am only 19. Capitalise on the global environment, safety has always been of paramount importance, but now everyone can see that, and many want to play their part.
In terms of the global hierarchy, the safety professionals are rarely ever in the headlines, they don’t get their name on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, they don’t get praised for their successes on global TV, only widely criticised for their mistakes. It is almost an undercover operation; without it the system would collapse but not everyone realises that. At the end of the day, the professionals who dedicate their life and their skills to this trade have a passion for the industry and that is more important than any qualification or award on the planet.
In terms of scale, the modern world hasn’t seen an economy-crippling and life changing event like this pandemic in many decades. It has affected every corner of the globe including workplaces, communities and governments alike. The crisis has elevated the basic concept of risk and safety and made it something a lot bigger. In everyday life, you can walk down the street and spot 7-8 separate safety control methods if you truly concentrate or on the contrary, ignorance. A pedestrian crossing can be viewed either way: As a pointless obstruction delaying you getting from A to B, or as a carefully designed risk control method to assist pedestrians in crossing the roads. I believe it is all about perception. Safety post-Covid should have more of an impact as everyone’s lives have been changed in one way or another by the events in the past year.
The point I am trying to make is that my opinion on safety and risk will be biased as I am very passionate about my work and my profession, as I’m sure many others are. It is all about taking some of the negatives from the events in the past year and turning them into positives. Everyone focuses on the negatives too often; the news will share the tragic updates regarding the unfortunate loss of life and the infection rates for the past week. Whereas, changing everyone’s perception to look at the positives (so they can see how important safety has been for us in the past year) look at the amount of people we have vaccinated in such a short amount of time, look at the survival rate and the valour of our NHS. I believe that this is the start in changing the industry post-Covid.
After Covid has concluded, it will become another virus that the world must learn to live with as the past has proven, it is almost impossible to completely eradicate a virus.
In line with Institutes such as IIRSM and IOSH who have started young leaders’ initiatives, it is the way forward. Bringing on more youth, creating a diverse profession with a wide range of backgrounds who can then share knowledge and opinions regarding similar matters. It creates an opening, a steppingstone to enter the safety industry giving it more of the attention it needs. More and more in modern society is Health and Safety being used and implemented in businesses. In almost every country, it is even a legal requirement to have prerequisites such as risk assessments in place before work can begin.
Health and safety is an industry for the future, unlike some other trades it will always exist in society. It is important that people want to learn more, whether they work in safety or not. Creating a positive safety culture in the world is a goal in which we can hopefully achieve. Everyone must work, and everyone equally has the right to come home each day to their families. I am a strong believer of this.
As restrictions ease and life begins to ease back to normal, many people will rush to enjoy the life they have missed out on for the past year. The aim is to ensure they don’t forget, as I’m sure many people can’t. The pandemic from a safety perspective should also be a learning curve. Asking the question of how is spread so quick? Why wasn’t more done to control it? Why did we neglect the significance of the virus before it reached the UK? The idea is to avoid things like this occurring in the first place. But, when they do occur, you have to take on board the mistakes made and aim to improve going forward as a reflection.
Young Leaders, a powerful and inspiring initiative, one in which I take part in myself. I actively encourage all those around me to consider a safety career and help the world develop as we all naturally heal, as a race.
Safety is a valued management function in contemporary society, most safety managers sit on the senior board in most companies. This is correct as it portrays the importance of the role they play in everyday activities and it also places the correct recognition on the industry. It is important to demonstrate that without the powerful presence of health and safety in our current society, we would’ve struggled to control the pandemic and it could’ve been escalated tenfold. I believe that the pandemic has only highlighted the importance of safety in one area of our lives but it is so much bigger than that. The next steps should be inspiring the next generation and showing the world what true human cooperation can do.
After all, we are one race, we are one people, and in Unity there is strength. We are all responsible for each other.
Logan Holmes, IIRSM Student member