Practitioner's viewpoint - April 2020

03 March 2020

Louise Ward is inviting you to take place in her revolution, which will help take workplace health, safety and environmental protection to the next level.

I WANT to start a revolution. 

If you know me that's probably a really strange thing to hear, because I'm a reflective introvert, not the type of person you would traditionally think of as a revolutionary! But the good news is that revolutions don't have to be about one person taking big actions, actually revolutions can be achieved cumulatively with lots of people making small changes over a period of time.

I want to quietly revolutionise the standard approach to health and safety. Systems and procedures all have their place, but I really believe it's small actions that have the power to make a real difference. 

I recently saw a fantastic Ted Talk by Mark Bezos. He talks about volunteering as a Firefighter in the US. His town also has a full-time fire brigade, so when a call comes there a bit of competition! Mark talks about arriving at a house fire to find the full-time guys already there and fighting the fire. Another volunteer who arrived before him gets to go and save the dog, but When Mark arrives he's asked to go in to the building, where the fire is now under control, to get some shoes for the homeowner who’s stood outside in just a dressing gown. He feels insulted by this because everybody else is getting the glory, but he talks about getting a letter from the lady afterwards to say lots of people did amazing things on the night of the fire, but the one thing she really remembers, and praises specifically, is the chap that even went to get her a pair of shoes.

So that's a small action making a big difference to just one person. However, on a more macro level, the Blue Planet programme shown by the BBC has revolutionised thinking about single-use plastic and the impact that it has on the environment. That single program has driven huge numbers of people to make small changes in their lives which will cumulatively make a massive and positive difference to our planet. 

So, a revolution doesn't have to be about one person with a big idea. It can be a movement created by lots of people taking small actions on a regular basis. It's about demonstrating through actions that we care, about people, about the environment around us, about each other and about ourselves. It's about our core values, those principles that guide our conduct, and that’s what we need to focus on now to move the health and safety agenda forwards.

I chose a career in health and safety because I believe that everyone should go home at the end of the day, safe, well and fit to enjoy their life outside work. I believe each day presents us with opportunities to take small actions that can make this a reality, and it can be really small things. How often in a workplace do you walk past a spill on the floor in the corridor? Little drips where somebody's slopped a drink. Don't walk by, grab a bit of blue roll and wipe it up because that's a very small thing that has the ability to make a big difference. Similarly reaching out and chatting to somebody who sat on their own, engaging with that person, checking in and making sure that they're okay can help to combat loneliness, make them feel included or perhaps address issue that they're struggling with. Choosing the sandwich in the cardboard box rather than the plastic one can make a big difference to our world. These sound like really small things. But if we all do them consistently it can build to become a huge movement. 

This quiet approach to revelation has the potential to deliver a really sustainable change in our businesses, to become ‘just the way we do things around here’ and I think this can help us to take workplace health, safety and environmental protection to the next level.

So I'm asking you to commit to doing at least one small thing every day that makes a difference to another person or to our environment. The lovely thing is that there's a personal benefit too, because when you do something positive it makes you feel good!

So I'm inviting you all to join my revolution. Let’s make small change part of our everyday lives and build a sustainable culture of caring in our workplaces.

Louise Ward is the health, safety and environment director at Siemens. For more information visit,