Putting the H back into Health and Safety - 2015 SOHSA Conference
Date: Friday, December 18, 2015 @ 20:17:56 GMT
Topic: Association News

SOHSA Conference 2015 - The #SilentHOn the 13th October, the Sheffield Occupational Health and Safety Association (SOHSA) held their annual conference at the Tapton Masonic Hall, Sheffield. Now, in its 94th year, the association is renowned for securing leading industry speakers for the event - and this year was no exception. The theme this year was “The Silent H” - focussing on managing occupational health hazards rather than simply traditional "safety", as current chairman Ben Tranmer explained: “putting the H back into Health and Safety”.

"Putting the H back into Health and Safety"

The committee were ambitious but committed to delivering diverse content and managed to squeeze no fewer than eight speakers into the day’s agenda. The conference was supported by a number of exhibitors on the day and headline sponsors Arco and Mental Health First Aid England.

Keynote speaker for the day was Tracey Boyle, current Chair Elect of the British Occupational Hygiene Society (BOHS). Tracey opened the event and set the tone for the day by providing a background into how serious an issue workplace health related illnesses really are - to employers and employees alike - backed with current statistical data. Tracey took the opportunity to raise awareness of the latest BOHS campaign, “Breath Freely” - aiming to prevent lung disease in the construction industry.

Representing 3M, Tim Booth delivered an interactive presentation on workplace noise and the impacts it has in has upon employees. Tim was able to explain, in simple terms, the complex relationship between volume and the logarithmic dB scale. Just as interesting was Tim’s audible demonstration of what regular music sounds like to individuals who have suffered noise induced hearing loss at various frequencies.

Addressing the subject of Legionella and associated diseases was Dr Bill Thomas of ISHEM Ltd. Dr Thomas reflected on his involvement in investigating Legionnaires disease outbreaks both in the UK and overseas and he offered practical advice to help employers manage their water systems. Dr Thomas also provided an update on the recently overhauled Health and Safety Executive (HSE) approved code of practice (ACOP), L8, and associated guidance - giving an overview on the significant changes and how they would affect employers.

"Furniture is only ergonomic if it meets the needs of the individual"

Posturite representative Debbie Pettitt gave an energetic and engaging presentation on workplace ergonomics. Drawing on her many years of industry expertise Debbie explained, “Furniture is only ergonomic if it meets the needs of the individual”. Examples were provided of where, without the right guidance, employers can fail to meet the needs of their employees and the potential consequences. She confirmed what is currently considered the industry standard for workplace seating and explained the value and importance of having the right level of adjustment.

Andy Flockton , representing Mental Health First Aid England (MHFA), gave a thought provoking talk on the subject. Andy detailed the many different mental health conditions and explained just how prevalent they are within the workforce. Andy explained how training staff in mental health awareness would allow them to spot early warning signs and how working with organisations like MHFA England would guide managers towards the correct support. Mental health awareness is a fairly new discipline to the current health and safety professional, which is why the committee felt it vital to include it in the programme.

Tracey Black of DEB Ltd is a regular contributor to SOHSA and took to the floor to discuss occupational skin care. She explained the importance of having the correct skin care programmes in the workplace - which should start with a pre-use application to protect, a suitable cleansing agent for washing and a conditioning cream to restore the skin. Tracey educated delegates in skin anatomy and how agents can penetrate and damage the dermal layers. She further explained why it is important to select the right products and hand washing regimes for different industry activities.

Bob Bridge was the final speaker of the day, addressing the subject of occupational asbestos exposure. Bob was representing UKATA: the UK Asbestos Training Association, and gave a passionate presentation on how the association is raising standards in asbestos awareness training. Bob gave an overview of asbestos and the related diseases and detailed just how many lives have been claimed through historical exposure. He then revealed how the risk is ever present as asbestos is still known to exist in millions of homes and commercial properties across the UK. For this reason, he added, asbestos awareness training should be a consideration for many employers. Bob explained how the association sets standards, audits and managers the list of training providers to ensure the highest possible standards, standards which are endorsed by the HSE. 

The conference was brought to a close by the SOHSA chairman, Ben Tranmer, who thanked all speakers, sponsors and delegates for their involvement, support and contribution to the day and extended an invitation to the 2016 conference, planning for which is already underway.

Photographs from the Conference

Delegates Delegates Delegates Delegates

Resources and Further Information

This article comes from Sheffield Occupational Health and Safety Association (SOHSA)

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