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Tackle 'plague' of accidents, new IOSH president urges

20 November 2023

THE NEW president of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) is calling on the profession to challenge itself to develop new ways of tackling the “unacceptably high” number of work-related deaths, fatalities and ill health.

With an estimated 7,500 people dying because of unsafe and unhealthy working conditions every day around the world, Stuart Hughes says the occupational safety and health (OSH) profession has an obligation to combat this by working together with businesses, governments and other professions. 

“We need to challenge ourselves, ask ourselves if what we’re doing to protect people is working as effectively as it can,” he said. “We need to focus on ensuring we’re doing the right things, for the benefit of society.” 

Stuart was confirmed as IOSH President for 2023-24 at its AGM on 15 November. He takes over the role from Lawrence Webb. 

An experienced OSH professional and chartered member of IOSH, Stuart is currently head of health and safety for Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One team. 

Among his aims over the next 12 months are to work with IOSH and other OSH professionals to advance health and safety standards around the world, develop thought leadership to address key challenges, as well as support efforts to provide opportunities for future generations of professionals.

He points to the International Labour Organization’s adoption of a safe and healthy work environment as a fundamental principle and right at work as being key for this.

“We’re still plagued by unacceptably high numbers of deaths at work, along with serious injuries in workplace accidents and ill health caused by exposure to harmful materials and substances at work,” he said. 

“We have a mandate from the ILO and there is a clear link between OSH and delivering the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. All of this gives us greater reach and the ability to drive change in collaboration with businesses, governments and other professions. 

“So, I’d like to ask all IOSH members to take a moment to consider how they are supporting efforts to make the world of work safer and healthier, and to ask themselves if they can do more to ensure people can go home from work every day safe, healthy and happy.”

As Stuart steps into the President role, Lawrence Webb becomes Immediate Past President. At the same time, Kelly Nicoll becomes president-elect and is set to succeed Stuart as president at the end of 2024.