“Oh no, here comes the Fun Police” said Gerard Hand (past President of IOSH), a comment which drew laughter around the room. However, alongside the laughter was a wave of nodding heads acknowledging that within many of the businesses represented in the room, SHE (Safety, Health and Environment) professionals are often regarded as disablers of progress, rather than enablers.

This year’s SHE Show North East addressed the challenging issue of “Bridging The Culture Gap…Engaging The Suits and The Boots”. The insightful day was broken down into three topic areas, Accident and Investigation, The Law, and finally Leadership, allowing participants to cover the full journey from Incident to Investigation.

For many of the SHE Show attendees and exhibitors, the event started late Monday evening with a Dinner and Drinks Reception. It was not only a chance to catch up with old friends, but make new acquaintances ahead of Tuesday’s conference. Within minutes of people arriving, the buzz in the room was palpable with hugs, handshakes and laughter filling the space. As always, we could see that The SHE Show was not just about a group of SHE professionals attending an event, but reinforcing the strong SHE community that exists across the UK.

“We spend our health gaining wealth, and then we spend our wealth gaining our health back”

After-Dinner Speaker John Ryan, set the tone for the rest of the event with his thought-provoking set on mental health in the workplace. Using comedy to talk about such an important subject kept it light-hearted, but it was also impossible not to pick up on the overarching message that what many regard as “workplace banter”, is actually increasing the stigmas associated with mental health and preventing those with concerns about their own well-being coming forward. The set ended with a one-liner which promoted a number of conversations between participants later that evening, “We spend our health gaining wealth, and then we spend our wealth gaining our health back. It’s time to break those habits”…Mr Ryan, we salute you!

Part 1 – The Fall and The Fatality

Picture the scene. It’s 7.30am on a Tuesday morning and 200+ delegates are making their way into St James’ Park in Newcastle. Understandably there are a few bleary eyes, but there is also a sense of anticipation of what’s to come over the next 8 hours. The exhibitors are already in place and have taken advantage of the coffee and Breakfast Barmcakes on offer. We apologise in advance for the use of the word Barmcakes, it became a conversation point for the next couple of hours about the correct term for the bread which surrounds a filling. We had Barmcakes, Butties, Sandwiches, Cobs, Rolls and Muffins, the one think we all did agree on was that it is absolutely not a tea-cake. Anyway, we digress, back to the SHE Show.

After an hour perusing our fantastic range of exhibitors, delegates made their way into the main room for our opening section. Duncan Aspin (Head of HSEQS, Volkerstevin) welcomed everyone to the day and invited Kevin Gilroy from Avery Dennison on stage to discuss how they had implemented culture change within their organisation. Kevin stressed that the key to effective change was to make sure that those working on sites feel engaged in the process. Kevin’s passion for wider involvement shone through, so much so, that he decided not to answer the question fully and deferred to one of his colleagues in the audience. “There is just a different feeling to safety on site now” said the site worker, “I can’t put my finger on it, but people just seem to look out for each other”. Avery Dennison certainly see Health and Safety as something that should be “done with”, rather than “done to” their colleagues.

Just Drama Based Training carried the theme of understanding perspectives into their presentation in which we saw how one issue can be perceived by four different people within an organisation. Alice Boyd facilitated the session in which delegates were able to quiz those on stage to understand their position, and more importantly how they felt about those with an alternative viewpoint. The Just DBT team returned to the stage throughout the day to help us see “The Bigger Picture” and build on the lessons learnt from Avery Dennison that a culture which involves the whole team in the creation of procedures, reduces the number of people who feel their job is being made harder by restrictive policies.

Four Friends who never came home

It’s quite common at conferences to hear from experts, but it’s another thing to hear from someone who has experienced the one thing we all hope we never have to go through. Matt Hazelton from Proud2BSafe had the room’s undivided attention as he told us about his four friends who left home one morning to go to work, and never came home. Matt recounted the feeling of arriving at a site to hear the tragic news and the impact it had on himself and those around him, but he also talked through the legal fallout, while heart-breaking, Matt’s message was clear. Directors and Senior Managers have a responsibility to those who they work with. The investigation which followed the death of his friends and family was the toughest experience of his life, “feeling like a criminal” having to explain and prove that every procedure was in place to prevent a tragedy such as this. Matt’s company was cleared of any responsibility for the lives that were lost that day, but as Matt put it, it’s something that he will live with every day for the rest his life.

Matt’s experience left many in the room in silence as our next speaker, Kevin Elliot (Eversheds Sutherland) took to the stage. Kevin immediately acknowledged that Matt’s experience was a tough talk to follow, but as a SHE professional it was essential to not only work to prevent accidents, but also understand what to do in the aftermath of an incident. Kevin’s advice including making sure all the relevant people are informed of an incident, and that support is offered to any colleagues who may have witnessed or been affected by the events which have occurred. “The first 48 hours are the most important” said Kevin, and how you respond in that time can affect what will happen over the months which follow.

Part 2 – Leadership…The Art of Communication

The second part of the day heard from two excellent speakers, Gerard Hand (past President of IOSH) and James Pomeroy (Lloyds Register). Gerard entertained the audience with stories of companies he had previously visited where Health and Safety procedures were in place, yet nobody understood why. Gerard stressed that SHE professionals should have a “Can Do” attitude and that the language used in the workplace can be the difference between colleagues getting on board, or regarding you as nothing more than the “fun police”. An interesting point which got the room murmuring was that it can look very positive when we proudly state that it’s been 263 days since our last accidents….but how that feeling can change when the counter is reset to zero.

James’s talk focused on the small “nudges” that can make a difference and how they are creating an “army of eco warriors”. James talked us through some of the smart innovations they had created to create environmental change, all with one common theme, it’s a number of small actions from everyone, which amounts to making big changes in our environments. James highlighted small actions which everyone can take such as switching off lights when rooms are not in use, stressing that it’s important that the messages are succinct, positive and easy to follow. The “nudge” concept certainly could lead to some major changes within organisations.

“HULK SMASH”

Post-Lunch we were treated to a high energy talk from the enigmatic Bruce Durham (Huddle Culture). We all have an inner Hulk, however some people are more likely to let that Hulk break free, and rather than formulate a considerate response to a situation, resort to the more stress inducing “HULK SMASH” form of response. Bruce was passionate about his mission to “help more people get it right, first time” by creating cultures in which communication is made a priority.

Nigel Girling (CEO of The National Centre for Strategic Leadership) brought his unique brand of humour to the stage next, focusing on Vision and Inspiration in the workplace. Nigel shared with us his view on the qualities required to be inspirational, and the key was to work collaboratively with others. We live in a more complex world where priorities have changed and engagement has dropped, meaning we have “sleep walked into a productivity crisis”. In Nigel’s own words “There’s no ‘right way’ to lead or inspire, you just have to find the key that will make it work for you and for your people.”

Our final presentation of the day was from Mark Scoggins (Fisher Scoggins Waters LLP) on The Interview. Mark shared his tips on what to do if you find yourself required to attend and interview under caution. Who to send, How to Prepare and How to Avoid the Perils and Pitfalls. Watching from the back of the room, we could see nods of agreement from those who had been through the process, and frantic scribbling on notepads from those who haven’t. One things was for sure, the information Mark shared was invaluable to anyone who could find themselves in an interview situation. Marks presentation exemplified what we look for in The SHE Show speakers, experts in their field with the flair and charisma to bring what many may consider a daunting subject to life.

It’s impossible in the form of an article like this, to do justice to the quality of the speakers we partner with to deliver The SHE Show, but we hope that this overview has given you a flavour of the quality you can expect from any of The SHE Shows we deliver across the UK.

Of course, it’s a team effort and couldn’t do it without the partners and sponsors who help us create an event that gets people talking.

Take a Bow

Headline Sponsors

Avery Dennison – Avery Dennison Corporation is a global materials science and manufacturing company specializing in the design and manufacture of a wide variety of labeling and functional materials.

Honeywell Industrial Safety – Honeywell Industrial Safety helps customers build enduring safety cultures across a wide range of markets that include general safety and preparedness, first responder, electrical safety, and consumer products.

Networking Evening Dinner Sponsors

Honeywell Industrial Safety

Network Evening Drinks Sponsors

Mirashare – Mirashare is an incredibly powerful and flexible health and safety management software solution

Event Partners

Eversheds Sutherland LLP – As a global top 15 law practice, Eversheds Sutherland provides legal advice and solutions to a global client base ranging from small and mid-sized businesses to the largest multinationals.

Just Drama Based Training – Just Drama Based Training can help you to identify, challenge and change unacceptable behaviour in the workplace. From behavioural safety to bullying and harassment, they can provide ongoing support to sustain positive improvement in the culture of your organisation.

Mates in Mind – Mates in mind aims to provide clear information to employers on available support and guidance on mental health, mental illness and mental wellbeing, and how they can address this within their organisations.

Shirley Parsons – Global leaders in HSEQ recruitment, search, and staffing services

St James’ Park – St. James’ Park is Newcastle’s best conference and exhibition venue with world class facilities and services.

See You in Milton Keynes

The next SHE Show will take place in Milton Keynes on the 2nd July 2019. To find out more click here, and we hope to see you for The SHE Show South.