14 May 2008
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents and BNFL today announced a major, new, long-term scholarship scheme for students to undertake research aimed at saving lives and reducing injuries.
BNFL (British Nuclear Fuels) has pledged £500,000 to establish a fund to finance students capable of carrying out work that will have a significant impact on improving safety in the UK and around the world.
Under what is believed to be one of the biggest accident-prevention scholarships ever funded, up to three PhD students will be awarded grants annually. The researcher who produces the best work each year will be awarded a further cash prize as an added incentive for excellence.
An invitation to bid for the scholarships, together with key themes for research, will be announced later this year. RoSPA and BNFL will be seeking to engage the country's leading researchers to focus on priority topics, not just in occupational safety and health, but also accident prevention on the road, in the home, in water and in leisure activities as well as in the area of safety education.
The scheme was outlined at RoSPA's conference on Developing Leadership Action at Safety and Health Expo in Birmingham by Mike Parker, BNFL Group Chief Executive.
The announcement was welcomed at the conference by Judith Hackitt, Chair of the Health and Safety Executive, who was also speaking at the event.
BNFL has won many top awards from RoSPA for its commitment to health and safety and, now that nuclear power management is being moved into the private sector, the scholarship will ensure its name lives on as a safety champion. BNFL will close down over the coming year once it has completed the sales and transfers of its remaining businesses.
It is envisaged the scheme will run for 10 to 12 years, starting in 2009.
The scholarships will be built into RoSPA's highly-regarded Occupational Health and Safety Awards system. Winners will be announced each May at the Society's Oscars-style awards ceremonies at the NEC, which are attended by nearly 3,000 people.
Tom Mullarkey, the safety charity's Chief Executive, said: "This wonderful legacy from BNFL will play a major part in helping us to achieve our mission, which is to save lives and reduce injuries.
"It will finance research to produce results that can make a real difference to people's lives. We may also extend projects to allow recommendations to be implemented and specific projects to be fully developed.
"BNFL is blazing the trail to prove what can be done to prevent accidents, which have such a devastating impact throughout society. We hope other businesses and organisations will follow its lead and help us to resource initiatives which demonstrate that the vast majority of accidents are far from inevitable and that something can and must be done to stop them."
Mike Parker said: "Since its formation in 1971, BNFL has always placed the highest priority on occupational safety and our employees have been consistently committed to achieving the highest standards. I hope that our contribution to the RoSPA scholarship will help to instil these commitments and beliefs more widely. In so doing, I believe we will be leaving a very fitting legacy for the future."
Judith Hackitt said: "I commend this valuable and imaginative initiative. Together RoSPA and BNFL will stimulate innovative research work by PhD-level students, which will make a real difference to accident and ill-health prevention."
More details about the scholarship will be announced shortly. Enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org .
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