The vital need for employers to invest in protecting the health and safety of workers even though they are facing financial pressures will be the theme of this year's RoSPA Occupational Safety and Health at Work Congress.
The safety charity's annual conference for business leaders and risk management professionals, to be held in Birmingham in May, will hear that the temptation to cut back on health and safety is likely to intensify.
But delegates will learn that firms should not ignore the legal, ethical and business reasons for the effective management of health and safety. Those holding director-level and managerial posts need to be particularly mindful that their legal duties to safeguard workers continue as before.
The conference will be held on May 13 at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole Hotel at the National Exhibition Centre, alongside Safety & Health Expo, Europe's largest annual health and safety exhibition.
It will open with a keynote question and answer session in which Tom Mullarkey, RoSPA chief executive, will interview Geoffrey Podger, chief executive of the Health and Safety Executive, about future HSE strategy.
There will also be a debate on whether a stronger regulatory approach is needed to ensure effective director leadership of health and safety at work. Lawrence Waterman, chairman of Sypol Ltd, will speak in favour of the motion, with Ian Dormer, managing director of Rosh Engineering Ltd, speaking against.
Among the other speakers at the conference, running in association with the HSE, are: Susan Murray, head of health and safety in the T&G Section of Unite the Union, who will talk about workforce involvement; and Carl Carter, British Sugar Plc's group development director, who will present the business case for health and safety.
Case studies will be presented by: Dr Paul Kanas, head of occupational health at Cadbury UK, on responding to the new health and work agenda; John Murphy, manager of the Contractors Health and Safety Assessment Scheme, on raising standards among contractors; and Mark Varley, E.ON's health, safety and environment manager – retail, who will talk about leading teams safely.
Roger Bibbings, RoSPA occupational safety adviser, said: “As recession bites, all business functions are being challenged to improve their effectiveness. It is more important than ever, therefore, for business leaders, health and safety professionals and workforce safety representatives to be clear about the ethical and legal arguments for managing work-related risks.
“And the business case for effective health and safety management is even stronger in a recession. This is because as sales and turnover reduce, cutting losses due to easily avoidable accidents and work-related ill health becomes an ever more important option for defending the bottom line.”
See www.rospa.com/event/occsafetycongress/ for full conference details, including booking information, or email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0121 248 2120. More information about Safety & Health Expo is available at www.safety-health-expo.co.uk