Ethical principles and ethical practice

This was one of the themes that came out in the course of the Assembly of Representatives’ meeting at the CIEH’s headquarters yesterday. The Assembly brings together representatives from the various regions and special interest groups of the CIEH and acts to connect the formal governance structure of the charity with its membership.

Jon Buttolph (@jonbuttolph) and Tony Lewis (@CIEHEducation) presented the need for a code of ethics, and opposed to the existing code of conduct, for environmental health practitioners. Continue reading

Public consultation on a National Local Authority Enforcement Code

Well, it’s four o’clock on the Friday before Christmas, so someone at HSE has cleared their desk.

After a great deal of straining, HSE have finally produced a consultation paper on a National Code for local authority enforcement of health and safety. This will be issued as Section 18 guidance under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, which means local authorities are obliged to follow the guidance.

At a first, very cursory glance, it looks like a common-sense development of the approach taken by HSE and local authority regulators over the last year since the publication of the Professor Ragnar Löfstedt report “Reclaiming health & safety for all: An independent review of health and safety legislation” (you can read all about the Government’s health and safety reforms here).

The Code will:

  • Clarify the roles and responsibilities of business, regulators and professional bodies to ensure a shared understanding on the management of risk;
  • Outline a risk-based regulatory approach for local authority regulators;
  • Set out standards for training and competence
  • Set out arrangements for peer review and reporting on compliance with the code.

There is also a list of “high risk sectors” and “high risk activities” which should be the only ones receiving proactive inspections; all other sites will receive either reactive (when things go wrong) or non-inspection interventions. Curiously, although the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and gas explosion is identified as a hazard, the only sector associated with the hazard is “commercial catering premises using solid fuel cooking equipment”. – Shome mishtake surely?

Interested parties have until 1st March 2013 to respond, but we’re expecting that the Code will be in place from 1st April 2013.

Looking back and looking forward

I’ve spent this week reviewing what I’ve achieved at work this year and identifying what needs to be done in the last quarter. So far, most of my objectives to date have been met, a few have slipped and one or two have been shifted due to external forces. That’s a satisfying place to be in the run-in to Christmas and Hogmanay, and it means that tomorrow I can finish for my holiday with most things in reasonable order and with some idea of what my priorities will be for January.

It’s the nature of work plans that they are more ambitious than reality generally permits to come to pass. One lesson we’re learning is to be a little less ambitious and allow ourselves to succeed at more. If you have too much in the plan, and only so much time or resource to deliver it, you’re setting yourself up to fail. If, however, you identify the tasks that really are essential for delivery or improvement, then energies can be focussed in the right direction and success is much more likely. And, if you have an idea about what else you’d like to do if time permits, then you’re not short of other projects to choose from when opportunities arise.

We’ve done a lot of work this year on reviewing how we deliver our function as health and safety regulators. The big training day I ran a couple of weeks ago was part of that, and now my job is to support the teams as they start to deliver the specific projects we’ve identified – gas safety in catering premise and Legionella in spa pools. We’re also now up and running with the desktop risk assessment for sites which fall to us for enforcement and that should start to give us much better intelligence about where the risks really are out there so we can do something to tackle them.

Priorities for the last quarter of the year are really about looking forward to the next year and the things we need to be doing in that. So, a review of policies and procedures, documents to make them more usable for readers, planning projects for the next year and planning training and learning activities for inspectors. And there’ll be some work with the database system and the document management system, the internal health and safety group and the regional partnership group.

It’s going to be fun.

A good day’s training given

Today was one of the milestones of my work year: delivering professional training to our health and safety inspectors. It was a busy day and we all had to work hard to get the best out of it.  But fun was had, as were tea, coffee and scones, the essentials precursors to any meeting or training event in Argyll.

There were three key sessions to deliver to meet our service plan and kick off the Council’s priorities for intervention as a health and safety regulator. I’ve spent the first part of the year designing the new projects and getting them agreed with the team managers who have to deliver them, and the time came today to get things going.

Continue reading

Bouncing back to blogging

I used to write a blog. In fact, I wrote over 500 posts in a previous one, but gave up the habit about four years ago. I’ve decided to get back into the blogging thing now, but for slightly different reasons.

The old blog told everyday stories of my life, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m proud of some of the writing I did on that blog, but it was written under a pseudonym, and here I want to write as myself, and as my professional self – whatever that strange amalgam of qualifications, interests, skills and expertise happens to be from time to time.

The final prompt for me was reading Richard Maun’s book Bouncing Back. Richard is someone I know slightly, but would like to know better. He’s an insightful and fascinating man with a wealth of business experience and a skilful and captivating teaching and mentoring style. We’ve met at a TA peer group we both attend – me less frequently than I’d like, because I’m 500 miles away from Suffolk.

His book, Bouncing Back, is the fifth he’s published and is focussed on the tasks involved with recovering from redundancy, business failure, or other seemingly catastrophic events in business or professional life. Well, for business or professional, you can read whatever it is that you do to be fulfilled and purposeful in your life. I’ve been through redundancy in the last couple of years and am establishing myself in a new professional role in a redeployed post. This has turned out to be a real opportunity for me even if I am having to relearn technical skills in health and safety that I either forgot 30 years ago when I qualified or, more accurately, never learned in the first place.

The other context for this return to writing has been the challenge of building an effective professional network for my professional body here in Scotland. At a meeting this week, the issues being discussed and the thoughts being processed as a result of reading Richard’s book came together synergistically. Because what we’d been doing for the last couple of years hadn’t worked, we need to do something different. Because I am more than a local authority EHO, I want to do something different.

Bouncing Back discusses the role of social media in building a personal brand. It also provides tools for imagineering new futures when the old ones have run their course. It’s because of this that I have decided to own a wider and more personal professional identity, not just as an environmental health practitioner, but also a photographer, humanist, trainer, memetic engineer and transactional analyst. There’s more – I’ve loads of skills and experience that I have and can draw on, but I may refer to those in the course of future posts.

So, having thought about who or what I want to present to the world, I’ve aligned Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and now this blog to that same purpose. I believe I have interesting things to say and good tips and advice to share, and I’m going to do it here.

Patrick