Enhancing practice in safety management: a 35-year personal and professional journey

Asbury, Stephen Walter (2021) Enhancing practice in safety management: a 35-year personal and professional journey. [Doctorate by Public Works]

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This context statement provides critical evaluation and positioning of fifteen public works arising from empirical research and real-world projects undertaken by Stephen Asbury between 1984 and 2018. It sets these works within the continuity of other occupational health and safety (OH&S) improvements, assimilating knowledge and learning from multiple disciplinary approaches (Choi and Pak, 2006) into practice and, through this, providing unique contributions which have advanced OH&S practice and encouraged others to advance. The findings from these fieldworks are embedded in these works and have provoked updating of the systematic review of the efficacy of OH&S management systems by its original authors (Robson et al., 2007). The unique contributions provided by this research and the resulting public works divide into three themes:

1. Applying management theories to OH&S
2. Professionalising OH&S practice
3. Clarifying ‘dynamic’ in the context of risk assessment

Theme 1

The context statement and public works explain how recognised management systems emerged up to and beyond the UK regulator’s guidance for OH&S management published in 1991 as hsg65. They show the evolution to reflect the advice to adopt the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) improvement cycle proposed by Deming (1982), taking thethen newly developed concept of PDCA and implementing this in a new field (OH&S).

The research published in the works provides simplified materials (Asbury, 2002; 2006- 16; 2014) which can be handled by professionals in practice. This is demonstrated through an OH&S-MS app, an andragogic (Knowles, 1970, 1984a; b) learning case study Petros Barola and in case studies presented within the works including Pearson plc and the Saudi Arabian Oil Company Saudi Aramco.

These works have had a considerable impact upon practice including their contribution (Asbury, 2016a) to the-then new international standard for OH&S management systems, ISO 45001 (ISO, 2018a). The Audit Adventure auditing method presented in Asbury (2013a; 2018) is aligned to ISO 19011 (ISO, 2018b) which was revised in 2018 to reflect the risk-based approach described in the works since 2005.

Theme 2

The second theme explains the emergence of professional bodies operating in the OH&S field from 1916, and how membership of such bodies has grown – in the case of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health from 58 people in 1945 to over 47,000 today (IOSH, 2020a). The public works (Asbury, 1994a; 2001; 2010a; 2013b; 2013c) provided considerable impact upon the growth, reputation and competency of IOSH and its members from their key role in the grant to IOSH of a Royal Charter in 2003, and permission for it to confer an individual Charter (CMIOSH/CFIOSH) upon individual members from 2005.

The works (Asbury and Ball, 2009; 2016) provided IOSH’s position in the OH&S-related competency of corporate social responsibility (CSR), and later, IOSH’s continuing professional development (CPD) training course on CSR.

Theme 3

This theme and the public works explore the emergence of ‘risk assessment’ and its adoption for OH&S. Whilst the risk assessment discipline has been trivialised as ‘formfilling’ (Tombs and Whyte, 2012) in the review of the development of the concept of ‘responsive regulation’ following the Hampton Review (2005); and criticised for taking a too-low-level view of business risks, the works (Asbury, 2002; Asbury and Jacobs, 2014) show how organizations can benefit from developing a better understanding of ‘big rocks’ – the most significant risks to their objectives. A unique risk assessment software programme (Asbury, 2002) encouraged others to advance. In 2007, it was filmed for BBC Dragons’ Den.

For the first time outside of the fire services and emergency sector, the public works (Asbury and Jacobs, 2014) connected strategic risk assessment (SRA), with predictive risk assessment (PRA) and dynamic risk assessment (DRA) in the 3-Level Risk Management Model.

In the UK, the number of workplace fatalities has reduced by 86% since 1974 (HSE, 2020). In the same period, there has been a 77% reduction in reported non-fatal injuries (HSE, ibid.). OH&S remains punctuated by occasional tragedies, but on the whole, workplaces are becoming safer. The evolution of OH&S professional practice, risk-based OH&S-MS and MS auditing as mechanisms to embed and improve health and safety management have been advanced by these works and are anticipated to contribute further on the global stage now that ISO 45001:2018 has been adopted and published.

Item Type: Doctorate by Public Works
Sustainable Development Goals:
Research Areas: A. > School of Science and Technology > Natural Sciences
B. > Doctorates by Public Works
Item ID: 35805
Depositing User: Lisa Blanshard
Date Deposited: 31 Aug 2022 14:23
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2022 17:55
URI: https://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/35805

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