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Scientist appointed chair of new HSE committee

18 October 2022

A LEADING scientist who played an important role in Britain’s response to the pandemic has been appointed chair of a new science committee.

Professor Cath Noakes led a sub-group of SAGE (UK Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies) during the COVID-19 crisis. She will now chair a new committee that will offer assurance to Great Britain’s workplace regulator the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Professor Noakes, who is professor of Environmental Engineering for Buildings at the University of Leeds, has a background in ventilation, air quality, and infection control.

She will lead the new Science Quality Assurance Group (SQAG) at HSE, which will provide the workplace regulator with independent assurance on the relevance and quality of its scientific research. The advisory group will ensure important research into workplace health and safety is relevant, robust, and fit for the future.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Professor Noakes co-chaired the Environment and Modelling sub-group for SAGE. She also advised the NHS, the World Health Organisation and several government departments. She was awarded an OBE for her services to the pandemic in 2020.

Professor Cath Noakes said, “It’s a real honour to be appointed to this role as chair of a new committee that I believe can play an important part in ensuring science-based evidence used to protect people and places is of the highest quality.

“I have had the pleasure of seeing at first hand HSE’s scientific expertise being put to full use during the pandemic ranging from fundamental studies on transmission through to the production of information videos on ventilation that helped inform workplaces of good practice in stopping the spread of the virus.

“External experts drawn from relevant science and engineering disciplines, who are recognised as leaders in their fields, will now be asked to join the group which I’m privileged to lead.”

Chair of HSE, Sarah Newton added, “Professor Noakes brings with her a wealth of scientific experience and her expertise and knowledge is a perfect fit as chair of our new committee.

“The newly formed Science Quality Assurance Group will consider how science and evidence delivered by HSE helps to maintain Great Britain’s record as one of the safest countries to work in while supporting our 10-year strategy. We look forward to working with the group and welcome Cath as chair.”

The Science Quality Assurance Group will have 12 members who will be independent, external experts drawn from relevant science and engineering disciplines. Members will be organised into four subgroups. Each subgroup will review scientific research carried out to support one or more of HSE’s strategic objectives in detail.

The four subgroups will be:

  • Health and Safety
  • Net Zero
  • Chemicals Safety
  • Buildings Safety

HSE is currently inviting applications for Independent Members of its new Science Quality Assurance Group (SQAG). To find out more click here.