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Supporting the safety industry

23 January 2013

HSM talks to the BSIF's new chief executive David Lummis about his recent appointment and how he plans to lead the BSIF into a new era With over 30 years experience within the safety industry, a proven track record for

HSM talks to the BSIF's new chief executive David Lummis about his recent appointment and how he plans to lead the BSIF into a new era

With over 30 years experience within the safety industry, a proven track record for successfully running and growing businesses and a previous role as director of BSIF Enterprises David Lummis is already a familiar face within the BSIF. HSM asks how the industry has developed since his early days? "One of the most noticeable changes within the industry and indeed to business as a whole is the implementation of technology. 30 years ago there were no e mails or faxes - unimaginable now as we stare continually at computer screens - even on the move! "Although the Health and Safety at Work Act had been introduced (1974), over the years technological advances in electronics, safety equipment and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) have changed occupational safety. Style and design are a much greater influences now. If we look back safety spectacles used to look like old NHS frames! Improved material technologies have had a huge influence in protecting workers from occupational hazards. These include better fire resistant garments, cut resistance yarns and scratch resistant Polycarbonate. The focus on comfort has led to weight reductions and better design such as low breathing resistance RPE, ensuring those needing PPE are more likely to use it and keep wearing it to ensure their safety. Most importantly there is now much better safety engineering to remove the hazards from the work environment in the first place.

"Over this period of time slowly the number of reported injuries and fatalities has dropped and I am pleased to be part of such an important industry which really can make a difference.

However, as recent HSE statistics show, there is some headway to be made and I look forward to helping to continue to drive a positive change ensuring that those at work are adequately protected from any risks they may encounter and therefore stay safe." Health & safety has received a lot of negative press recently but David hopes this won't overshadow some of the industries significant achievements: "We should not forget that the safety industry in the UK has a great deal to be proud of," he stresses.

"Our occupational safety injury statistics show fewer people are being killed or harmed here than in any other country - an excellent accomplishment and the efforts of the BSIF and its members have played a strong part in this achievement." As readers will have seen in these pages, the BSIF has raised the profile of several occupational hazards and helped develop initiatives to overcome them. These have included 'It's in your hands' tackling workplace dermatitis; 'Fit2Fit' which led to the development of the BSIF Fit2Fit Fit Test Providers Accreditation Scheme - in collaboration with the HSE and other industry stakeholders; and most recently 'Clean Air? Take Care!" designed to dramatically increase awareness of occupational respiratory diseases and ways in which they can be prevented.

David believes the BSIF is now well positioned to significantly build on these successes: "The BSIF has, over the past 15 years, built a very strong foundation for the future," he explains. "Geoff Hooke's efforts have ensured we have a trade federation that is highly respected, that can speak with an authoritative voice and can offer its members collective representation in areas which will affect them, i.e. standards, legislation, enforcement. Upon this we now need to develop additional services and make sure we are seen as a supportive, helpful and open organisation and that all stakeholders within the safety industry can talk to and get simple, straightforward answers that help to meet their needs." David suggests there will be a focus on a number of areas. For example; enhanced communication systems (including the launch of a new website); the development of more campaigns like the 'It's in your hands' and 'Clean Air? Take Care?' initiatives both of which David says educated the market; offer enhanced exporter assistance (and hopefully UKT&I funding); work closely with HSE, the Environment Agency and other industry stakeholders to gain synergies with their activities; finally, ensure the Registered Safety Supplier scheme is universally recognised as a quality mark when sourcing safety goods and services.

The safety industry going forwards "The overall world trading environment is changing and the UK is undoubtedly influenced and involved in the change process," notes David. "The new UK politics are altering the dynamics of the market; discouraging centralised government spending but encouraging industrial performance. We need to be certain our industry is organised and assisted to maximise the advantages and minimise the negatives.

"As the only trade body representing the supply side of the health, safety and environmental protection industry, we are able to provide a public service role offering independent advice and information, funded directly by the industry itself. One of the BSIF's key functions is to represent the industry to government and other influential parties, building a stronger, more helpful trade federation to ensure the safety industry is heard and gets the support it needs," concludes David.