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Risk - what is in a name?

The days of the tag Health and Safety Professional are over. If we are truly honest most of us in the pure “safety” game are not health professionals this is the remit of occupational hygienists and occupational health nurses and doctors.

So what is it that we really do? A better description lies in the word “risk” in a sense we are risk profilers working towards better leadership and management within organisations. Those of us in full time roles often wear many hats, safety, environmental, security, business continuity, quality, emergency planning, data protection and so on.

When the dreaded words “elf n’ safety” are mentioned people recoil as if you are stating that you are a tax inspector or a police officer about to arrest them! I often find myself advising that I am a business consultant which seems to be generally accepted with much less of a sharp intake of breath. It also seems to avoid unnecessary awkwardness in social situations!

It is important that the word “risk” and “safety” and “international” are included in the title of the Institute as “risk” and “safety” are globally understood and transcend national legislation.

Going forward the concept of risk management is a much better vehicle to describe the wide variety of roles that most members hold and brings a number of the fringe specialisms into the fold.

There appears to be a stigma associated with the words health and safety and the poor press has been part of this. Time and time again poor decisions are attributed to the “health and safety brigade” when in fact the poor decisions have been made by non-professionals who display risk aversion tendencies.

So perhaps it is about time to embrace the truth of our role in “risk management” and rebrand ourselves after all personnel departments have done this metamorphosing into human resources so why can’t we?


Featured in Insight (May 2016)