The Safer Choice

Resources

I’ve written articles for health and safety publications since 1996, first for Health and Safety at Work Magazine, and later for IOSH Magazine. I’ve also presented on a range of topics at professional conferences. This section links to articlespresentations and webinars you might find useful.

With a background as a chartered psychologist, as well as a chartered health and safety professional, I’ve always been interested in how psychology has an impact on safety. I’m also fascinated with how we can make better use of technology – to overcome the weaknesses in the human factor, and to capitalise on the strengths of people.

I am available for presentations, panels, debates and webinars on a wide variety of safety topics. I also ghost write white papers, blogs and press releases on safety and health topics.

If there are any articles listed below that are not yet linked that you would like to read, or if you’d like me to write something for you please get in touch.

Articles

  • When virtual training isn’t enough. A description of a day’s ladder user and inspection training, demonstrating when only a hands on approach will work.
  • Manual handling training: the evidence for, and against. Is there any evidence that manual handling training is worth the time and money, and how can it be improved?
  • Back on course. How training providers have adapted essential health and safety training to cope with social distancing (written with Louis Wustemann)
  • The Right Fit. How different learning tools can be blended to create a great learning experience, from traditional classroom, to new experiences with virtual reality
  • When forgetting is part of learning. The problem of skill decay, and suggestions of how to overcome it.
  • Learning in style. The myths and dangers of learning style theories.
  • A PowerPoint well made. Some tips on how to make better use of PowerPoint as a health and safety training aid.
  • Letters of distinction. Rote learning is not the ultimate goal of health and safety education. Understanding, attitude and application are critical, and these require a lot more effort than a few mnemonics. But there are times when an aide-memoire can prompt a sequence that helps us to focus a risk assessment or audit –  or even to pass an exam!
  • Safety training: beyond the screen. A look at how new technology can enhance health and safety training. Written in 2012, so some of this has been overtaken by advances in AR and VR. However, there are some ideas in here that people have not yet capitalised on, so watch this space!
  • Alternative Realities. Provides an introduction to health and safety professionals on VR, and how it can be used in occupational training
  • Feeling the heat. A summary of a visit to see the Nottingham University project to use heat and smell as part of fire safety training.
  • Virtually perfect. How do the outcomes of training using virtual reality stack up against conventional, real-world training?
  • Robots & cobots – meet your new colleagues. Some of the opportunities – and challenges – or working alongside robots.
  • Robots at Amazon UK. An account of a visit to the Amazon warehouse in Tilbury, where robots work alongside pickers and packers.
  • Smart technology in the workplace.  A short look at how UAVs (drones), wearables, hearables, geographic positioning and IoT could enhance health and safety in the workplace.
  • Safety net. A look at the advantages and challenges of the Internet of Things.

The What is.. series was originally published in Health and Safety at Work Magazine (which is no longer available). The aim was to challenge received wisdom on the meaning of terms we use in health and safety. We use the terms inconsistently, haphazardly and without always thinking through the implication of their use. In many cases my ideas have moved on since I wrote these articles, but the challenges presented by each article are just as relevant now as when they were written.

Although not strictly part of this series, I’ve included an article here on Heinrich’s accident triangle, and its variations. Does it still have any value in modern healthy and safety practice?

In relation to ALARP and reasonably practicable, two articles about calculating the financial value of a life challenge the idea that ‘you can’t put a price on safety’:

  • The price of a life
  • Everything in proportion
You might also find the Lexicon series in IOSH Magazine (links to IOSH Magazine) useful. From A for ALARP through R for Risk homeostasis, to Z is for Zeigarnik, the series explains,” and sometimes demolishes, concepts and terminology used in occupational health and safety, psychology and society.
  • Sit-stand desks: are they worth the extra cost?
  • Financial incentives: can we bribe people to be safer and healthier? (Updated June 2021)
  • Manual handling training: why manual handling training might not be the most effective way to reduce manual handling injuries.
  • Hearing protection: why noise controls aren’t working
  • Older workers: an asset or a liability?
  • Health promotion in the workplace: can employers have any impact of employee health and wellbeing?
  • Smoking, alcohol and drugs: should employers have a role in managing people’s bad habits outside work?
  • E-cigarettes: the smoke screen around the ‘95% less harmful’ figure
  • Workplace stress programmes: how should employers spend their resources to reduce stress-related absences?
  • Ergonomic interventions for display screen equipment: which ones are worth it – and which are just gimmicks?
  • In-car safety systems: what’s available, and how can employers make best use of it for fleet drivers?
  • HGV: how can heavy goods vehicles be safer for cyclists and pedestrians?

This series was published in IOSH Magazine, so these links will take you to the IOSH Magazine website:

  • Quality managers know that quality has to be part of the process, not an ‘add-on’. How can this idea help us to build safety in?
  • Software developers have made great strides in the past decades. Gone are the thick manuals we had to read to use an application on a computer. So why are we still asking people to read safety manuals and procedures?
  • Behavioural economists know that you get more from people by nudging than nagging. How can we use the same principles in health and safety?
  • Safety critical assurance involves detailed analysis of systems to prevent fatal and wide-spread errors. In occupational health and safety it’s not reasonably practicable to apply the same techniques, but can we adapt some of their tools and techniques? Read how SWIFT (structured what if technique) could improve your risk assessments.
  • Health psychologists have developed tools to pick and choose the best ways of supporting behaviour change – so why do health and safety professionals resort to ‘it seemed like a good idea at the time’ approaches?
  • Cognitive psychologists can warn us of the mistakes how minds can trick us into during accident and incident investigation, and how to overcome unconscious bias.
  • Lean Sigma Six black belts have lots to teach us about how to improve safety without increasing bureaucracy.
  • Expert Witnesses get to look at the evidence when it goes wrong, so they know a thing or two about what we should be doing to prevent accidents, and where they happen, to provide a defence.
  • Magicians are perhaps the least likely profession we might turn to for lessons. However, both magic and accidents make use of the same cognitive loopholes in how we see and think.

Although not part of the above series, these articles also illustrate how to learn from other areas:

  • Taken to task (links to IOSH Magazine) explains how task analysis should be as much of a tool for OSH professionals as is risk assessment.
  • Contractor management: prequalified successes. The first of two articles on managing contractors safely, focussing on selecting contractors.
  • Contractor management: agents in place. The second article, focussing on what to do once the contractors have been selected.
  • A term for the worst. Although based on cases up to 2015, this article on health and safety practitioner liability still has lessons for professionals on not overreaching their competence.

Blogs & white papers

I have written lots of blogs for engage EHS (previously known as Effective Software, and now part of the EcoOnline group) and for eLearning company, Essential Skillz. Most of these are ghost written – so you’ll find someone else’s name given as author! I’ve listed only a few here – all links will take you to their websites:

You can see other blogs and posts on my LinkedIn profile.

These articles were all written for Nexstand EU. While obviously I was paid to say nice things about them, I genuinely like the laptop stand they sell, and it has replaced the one I used to use. These blogs also illustrate how I can tie useful information into a blog about your product.

  • Essential ergonomics during the COVID-19 threat. Much has been written about the problems of homeworkers during the pandemic – but what about those returning to work? How do you hot-desk, safely, during a pandemic? 
  • Zooming to meet you. Tips on setting up your laptop for Zoom calls, so that you look and feel good.
  • Display Screen Equipment for teenagers. Even before lockdown, children and teenagers were suffering from upper body pains, rare in this age group in previous generations. But there are things you can do to help protect your teens, and younger children.
  • 4 Top Tips to be a successful digital nomad. Bit of a flight of fantasy here – written in the depth of lockdown, I imagine what it would be like to travel the world and work at the same time.

These whitepapers have all been produced for Engage EHS (previously known as Effective Software) and the links will take you to their website:

  • ISO 45001: Benefits and pitfalls to accreditation. An ISO standard might be more than you need, it might even have a downside, but read this if you’re thinking of going for accreditation to ISO 45001 or a similar standard.
  • The future of ISO 45001. Is an international standard for occupational health and safety management a sensible thing to develop? How can a format intended to control the size of screws support something as complex as the way we work?
  • Growing safety engagement in your workplace. There’s a lot of talk about ’employee engagement’ in health and safety. But what do we mean by ‘engagement’ and how can you encourage it?
  • Near miss reporting: equipping yourself for the unplanned. Provides a good introduction to the topic of near misses (and other synonyms) for non-specialists, and challenges some of the current approaches to the topic. 
  • How to persuade and influence the C-suite to invest in safety.  Coming soon…

Webinars

You can listen to me in some webinars below, or visit The Safer Choice YouTube account.

Can technology help drive behaviour change? November 2020

I explain the hierarchy of behaviour change, as part of a panel on how technology is being used to support safety behaviours.

2020 Health and Safety Checklist. February 2020

with Richard Collins of safeti.com and Darragh Geoghegan of Engage EHS.

This relates to a blog I wrote for Engage EHS on what to focus on in 2020 (that was turned on it’s head by the end of March 2020!)

Presentations

A few examples of presentations I’ve given to professional audiences. These are not links to my slides, but if you’d like a presentation on these or other topics I’ve covered in articles, please get in touch.

Virtual classrooms for safety training

Online presentation to IOSH Thames Valley on 7 October 2020.

Robots for healthy workplaces

Health and Wellbeing Event, March 2020

Robots for future leaders

IOSH Future Leaders event, November 2019