Science and advocacy – Should BOHS become a campaigning organisation?

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Two of the key strategic objectives of BOHS are to

  • Raise awareness of occupational hygiene
  • Increase the visibility and influence of the Society

Traditionally we have concentrated on promoting research and discussion, publicising the science and good practice and encouraging education. As an organisation we aim to be impartial and trustworthy and it is important to members that our position is evidence-based, rational and objective. We have never been involved in political campaigning and lobbying but have concentrated on promoting the science and principles of occupational hygiene.

However, in recent years occupational hygiene, and health and safety generally, have become increasingly threatened by a number of developments that have taken place recently in the UK, including:

  • A general atmosphere, cultivated by the media, that is antagonistic towards “elf and safety”;
  • A Coalition Government that continues to press forward with its austerity and deregulatory agenda across business and employment;
  • An attitude in Government circles, despite the findings of the Lofstedt report, that health and safety places unnecessary burdens on industry;
  • The Prime Minister’s recent comments about the need to ‘kill off the health & safety culture for good’; and
  • Cutbacks at HSE which are likely to have implications on regulation and enforcement.

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Picture source; HSE

If we are to achieve our strategic objectives against this backdrop, we need to consider the most effective ways to influence policymakers and other key stakeholders. To canvas  members’ views on this, I’ll be running a workshop at the BOHS Conference in Cardiff with Tracey Boyle, BOHS Honorary Secretary, on behalf of Council.

The aims of the workshop will be to explore;

1. The types of issues on which BOHS should consider becoming a more active, campaigning organisation.

2. The key stakeholders we need to influence.

3. The approaches we could adopt.

We have invited two external speakers,

who will be relating their experiences of campaigning and lobbying. But the majority of the time will be devoted to syndicate group discussions to canvas the opinions of members and generate some ideas. The findings and conclusions will be presented to BOHS Council.

The workshop will be taking place on the Wednesday morning, starting bright and early at 8:30

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