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Ollerton Seminar. A higher league.

They came from far and wide, although predominantly from Derbyshire, South Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire. The annual health and safety event, organised and sponsored by Train to Safety was once again a run-away success, beating the previous year as always. People attended to experience some of the most powerful presentations we have hosted. “Plenty of food for thought”, “The best you have done by a long way so far”, “Powerful, deep and meaningful” are just some of the comments we have received.

This was the fifth seminar we have hosted. The first two being half day events to let our clients catch up on the changes to legislation over the previous 6 months. Soon this developed into full day events with exhibitors of vital services and new technologies being brought in to create a more wholesome experience.

Taking the show around the regions provides organisations an easier chance to see what we are doing while on their doorstep. This time it was the turn of the Victorian Pumping Station in Ollerton near Newark. Although more widely used for wedding receptions, it created a most wonderful and atmospheric backdrop. We desperately try to avoid the corporate, faceless and shapeless modern places.

The day started as usual with the usual roundup of changes, events and likely direction for health and safety over the next few years, by my colleague David Fagg. What did we learn? Some of the things I was aware of, like the trend of the HSE more and more to charge directors for health and safety failings and an increase in the sentences for manslaughter charges. However, for me, the discovery that during the last year, 38% of all fatalities at work happened to workers over the age of 60 was both shocking and revealing at the same time. We debated what could be contributing to this figure.

Following a quick brew and surveying of the 14 exhibitors present we were presented to by Recheal Valderama of Mates in Mind, who are a mental health charity working with industry and in particular are involved with some of the UK’s largest construction projects. A statistic which first shocked me when I heard of Mates in Mind while listening to a radio program was the suicide rate for construction workers was greater than the fatality rate for falls from height (renowned as their number one Hazard). This was powerful material and was then reinforced by the third presentation.

Alexis Powell-Howard from Fortis Therapy appeared for presentation number three, as it was mental health week, tackling the problems of stress in the workplace, including organisational culture, brain response to stress, resilience and self-care strategies. The presentation was so much in the moment and so well delivered using many visual aids, stories and interactive for the group.

The fourth and last presentation before lunch was a break from the morning’s mental health and wellbeing angle to modern Developments and Techniques in industry, in view of their likely future impact on health and safety by Sean Ibrahim of the Northern Crucible group. Sean has been involved most recently with consultation on new manufacturing projects in the region. Again there was so much to think about and consider in what was the shortest presentation, due to time restrictions, of the day.

A break for lunch produced the usual wonderful array of foods to keep our guests happy and then a chance to further look at some of the exhibitors. The list included EM Solutions (Environmental management), Posturite (seating and ergonomics), Able Safety (confined space safety systems), Validate Consulting (Environmental/safety monitoring), Arden Winch (supplier of PPE), Skyguard (lone worker systems), Wellpoint (occupational health monitoring), Riley Eyewear (specialist PPE), Skel-Ex (Exoskeletons for industry), Fortis Therapy (Stress management etc.) , My Safety Pal (management systems), Mash Productions (film production), SKC (measuring devices for background monitoring), OH Protect (occupational health service) and of course, Train to Safety.

Following lunch, we were treated to a review of ISO45001 by David Smith of IMS Risk solutions. David was one of the key driving forces who managed to get most of the countries around the world to agree to sign up to the final draught of the standard after a number of revisions and years of negotiation. It’s not often, in the past we could boast we had a global influence attend and share their experiences. We learned among other things that the ISO standard was framed around the UK’s version of Plan Do check Act i.e. HSG65. Apparently this didn’t go down too well with some countries who have a totally different culture of health and safety to our risk based approach we all take for granted. Leadership is central to the standard plus also a section on procurement we learnt.

The afternoon was broken up by the chance to attend a range of workshops from discussions about how we implement induction training, to having a go of vibration analysis equipment or attending and trying out some of the Your Safety Pal technology.

The final presentation of the day rested with Jason Anker MBE. Jason is a well-known speaker in many industry sectors but especially in construction due to the tragedy that happened when Jason fell from relatively low height and suffered a life changing, seriously disabling injury. His story is hard hitting and nothing is spared; I had already seen his videos. However, there was an interesting take on the story. Jason was in fine reflective mode and explained, with the help of his colleague Shaun what the effect had been on everyone else who was involved indirectly in the accident. From work colleagues, to spouse to family, the ripple effect of the tragedy had a powerful and in some cases unrealised effect on so many. Jason also pointed out how his state of mind had been effected by the events and circumstances of his life, leading up to and influencing his decision making process probably then triggering his accident. Jason also had comments to make about human resilience and the implication with ill health issues, to finally square the circle on an amazing and memorable day.

Many thanks to all guest attendees who turned out and supported us. Thank you also to the exhibitors for their most valuable support too. Thank you to the sublime presenters who really took the whole seminar into the Premiership division.

Jason Anker, thanked by Peter Minto

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