It’s always nice to be asked to share your thoughts on Safety, but how does it feel when what you are saying can be (in some ways) damming to the industry that you work in?
I have always found it an interesting juggle. For me now living and working in Australia, I find it really easy to be honest and somewhat critical of the Australian view on Safety, Risk Management and Compliance, so, when I was asked to speak at APOSH 33 hosted by IOSH late in 2018 I jumped at the chance.
Being able to speak openly and honestly about Safety & Risk in Australia is a key facilitator in starting to change the perception and culture, this is why, it has always been important for me to be an active member with the NSCA Foundation. They encourage alternative thinking around worker safety and wellbeing.
Events like SAFETYconnect not only give the sometimes disillusioned a voice, but it also gives a platform for the same individuals to float their ideas or strategies on how we should be “doing it” or at least the opportunity to voice concerns and suggestions on how we get the ball moving…………..enter APOSHO!
Below: Dr. Vincent Ho, IOSH President opens APOSHO 33 at the Regal Kowloon Hotel, Hong Kong
As someone who learnt their trade in the grim North East of England, to be asked by Dr. Vincent Ho (IOSH president) and the Incoming Secretary General of APOSHO (The NSCA Foundations very own Mr. Bernie Doyle) was a privilege.
This opportunity gave me some piece of mind, considering that that when I had first flagged Australia’s lack of desire for the use of technology in safety it was described as “the rantings of an angry POME” by a fellow Safety Professional. At least this opportunity gave me some validation that I was in fact, on the right track, at least from that perspective.
It does feel good to be identified by very knowledgeable and extremely credible individuals in the Safety community, even more so when they believe that what you have to say is worth listening to, the fact that they wanted to give me a platform for me to share my thoughts in a wider forum than just Australia, was a fantastic opportunity for me.
Now I need to point out that I love working with Australia’s premier Safety organisation (NSCA Foundation) and the value they add to the Safety community in Australia is essential when fostering a new dawn and a more progressive and holistic approach to Safety and Risk Management, but speaking in any wider forum in countries such as Hong Kong or Singapore or alike is a little different.
When we look at Hong Kong, where APOSHO 33 was hosted, they take a more proactive approach to safety, they embrace technology to move their compliance and risk-based thinking to the next level, the same can be said for Singapore. These two, on the surface appear to be just a little further ahead than where I currently call home, however when you scratch the surface and see what they are doing to keep leading the APAC region, you start to understand the positive impact that safety has in Hong Kong and alike and start to ask the question “How come we didn’t think of that?”
Then you throw people like myself in to the speaker’s equation, whom for the last 24 months has been highlighting the technology that we should be using in Australia (and getting the dirty look of resistance from a number of Safety Professionals) to help facilitate and manage risk, it starts to become more interesting.
My topic at APOSHO 33 was “The use of Modern Technology in OHS” or in some cases the lack of use in preventing work related incidents and injuries on a day to day basis. Granted that my session was slightly different than what I was lucky enough to present at SAFETYconnect 2018 (Technology: our safest enabler) but there was some significant undertones and trends that each session touched on.
In a way, being in a session straight after lunch is easier that being a headline act or following on from a keynote. At least this way, if people fell asleep (during your session) you can always blame the food and the size of the lunch that they have just eaten, rather then the dryness of your own topic or delivery (which I think is every speaker’s worst nightmare).
My session was held in the Luxembourg Room at the Regal Kowloon, it could hold around 100 people, I had 30 minutes to share my thoughts and ideas on how Technology can make our workplace safer. Now, as anyone who has spoken publicly before will know, it’s always good to see some friendly faces at the back of the room, not only from Australia, but from Hong Kong, Singapore and the UK, and for a lot of them it was the first time that they had heard me speak on this subject……and that’s where my mind goes blank, I can’t really remember that much of my session, the delivery seemed to go down well and my lasting impression was when the APOSHO photographer walked into get a couple of shots towards the end of my session, which sort of threw me for a split second, however the response and the feedback that came after my talk was pretty powerful.
To have complete strangers (all be it in the same industry as you) walk up and say, you have given them some ideas and on how they can better use technology, or when the Vice President of MOSHPA (Mr Lim Tian Yang ) told me that this was an “eye opening session that was thoroughly enjoyable and educational”, was pretty humbling, by the same account, I offered up my presentation on a USB to anyone who was kind enough to come along and listen to me speak, to which I gave out about 60 and I have been receiving emails since I got back about my session.
I never know what to expect when speaking, I have a strong accent and I am always conscious that I can tend to break into an even stronger accent as I get more comfortable, it’s my biggest concern when I am in a public forum, but then again when you look at the pool of international speakers, and their areas of expertise it did give me some comfort that at least the content and rational behind my presentation was close to the mark……..even if the presenter in this case thought no one would fully understand him.
When you consider some of the speakers that I was included with in the APOSHO 33 program, I felt that I had added some value or an opinion that may not have been considered in some areas.
Some of the highlight sessions for me to observe were:
JC Sekar, CEO of AcuziZen Technologies Singapore, who’s session created a flowed understanding on how we can better use Risk Communication.
Craig Docherty, CEO of Fusion Safety Management’s session on almost took us back to the basic principles of a time forgotten and before iPhone and Samsung technology.
Dr. Francisco Santos O’conner from the ILO and his session on where he highlighted the younger, we start thinking about safety and risk the more aware we become.
Dr. Karen McDonnell from ROSPA’s session on and how we need to better look at the whole of life principal and what the “Chronologically Gifted” can add.
Lance Hiscoe, Vice President of NOSA Global Holdings session on
Then add into the fray Dr. Vincent Ho (who hosted the whole APOSHO event) the President of IOSH and the Guest of Honour Er HO, the commissioner for Workplace Safety and Health at the Ministry of Manpower, Singapore, (who spoke about Singapore’s successes and future challenges in WSH) to be put in the same program as these and everyone one else who spoke, is a pretty cool achievement.
Below: (L-R) Er. Ho, the commissioner for Workplace Safety and Health at the Ministry of Manpower, Singapore & Dr. Vincent Ho, President of IOSH
APOSHO 33 Itself is an interesting and fascinating concept that works, and works well. If you imagine a sway of likeminded forward thinking and Risk focused organisations like the NSCA Foundation, coming together annually and working on principals to make a significant difference to each and every worker in the APAC region, you can understand the impact that this can have.
Granted, like any collective, there are disagreements and areas the some feel action is more relevant that others, but it was impressive to see so many leaders put aside their own ideas, for the good of an entire region, and in a lot of cases they spoke eloquently, articulately and consciously in English which was not their native language.
It highlighted what can be achieved, when professional come together to achieve a goal, they did not worry about changing their associations name or trying to add in a word to appease a percentage of the workforce that felt unrepresented or the fact that legislation was not the same as their regional neighbour, they had a singular common goal, to make work safer, and that’s where the APOSHO model works so well.
Either side of the APOSHO meetings and AGM, the conference is held with more than 60 speakers and over 300 professionals in attendance, APOSHO just works.
It becomes a forum to voice ideas, address concerns and have your thoughts as to possible solutions heard, not just at a National level, but a regional level which then filters through to the wider global Safety & Health Community, and over my week in Hong Kong, I was lucky enough to spend time and discuss safety with the likes of Dr. Vincent Ho, Singapore’s Commissioner for Safety Er. Ho, the outgoing Secretary General of APOSHO Chi-Ming Law and the incoming Secretary General Bernie Doyle, they all had the same targets or goals and aspirations as I did and that everyone that I spoke to over the APOSHO event, to drive change in Safety through communication and collaboration and make every workplace safer.
Below: (L-R) Outgoing Secretary General of APOSHO, Mr. Chi-Ming Law, Secretary General of APOSHO, Mr. Bernie Doyle & me
Australia can only benefit from organisations like APOSHO, can only benefit from organisations like the NSCA Foundation and we can only learn from organisations like IOSH. Both IOSH and the NSCA understand the value of vocational training and education to empower and drive change in the safety world. I see IOSH and the NSCA Foundation as two of the though leaders in the region, who support businesses and its members to drive change through excellence and whilst this was not my first NSCA Foundation or IOSH event, it was my first APOSHO and I look forward to my next and catching up with the new network that I have build in my short time in Hong Kong.
Finally, a huge thank you to the entire IOSH team who made this event possible, to the APOSHO Members, the speakers, sponsors and most importantly of all the delegates who travelled from all around the world.
Andy Lewis, author of this article & Director of WHS Australia, is an experiences Safety, Risk & Corporate Compliance professional with over 15 years’ multi industry experience. For more information on the session “The use of Modern Technology in OHS” or to discuss opportunities, Andy directly via the following: