"It's guaranteed to be an exciting journey" – how students are creating the safe workplaces of the future 

With the nature of his work ensuring his feet are rarely on the ground, keeping people safe and away from danger is all in a day’s work for Cédric Augé, a Chartered Member of IOSH with an exciting history serving as part of the French Army.

Cédric has worked in a number of intensive roles, rising through the ranks from serving as a paratrooper to becoming a captain with responsibility for up to 1,000 soldiers. He has also operated as a Marine Officer on saturation diving vessels, where it was his job to manage all health and safety and environmental aspects on board.

While Cédric is now a Chartered member of IOSH and working as a Safety, Health, Environment and Quality Manager with Morrison Utility Services, the lessons he learned from his diverse military career – and his Master’s degree from the IOSH-accredited Safety and Risk Management course at the University of Strathclyde – are certainly not forgotten. They play an active role in his day-to-day operations and in his passion for exploring the important relationship between sleep deprivation and the world of work.  

“During my Master’s dissertation I looked at fatigue and sleep in relation to the work environment,” Cédric says. “I worked with a number of globally recognised sleep experts and CEOs of companies developing sleep-tracking and enhancement devices. I conducted comparative experiments with a view to defining the essential characteristics of an innovative and effective sleep-tracker to measure advanced sleep data and predict fatigue levels of a company's workforce.”

His research into this area has led Cedric to a conclusion: that technology can benefit employees when applied judiciously by managers with input from experts.

“After investing so much time and effort into this research, I am of the firm conviction that ever-developing technology used in conjunction with other fatigue risk management systems can positively enhance the safety, health, wellbeing and even productivity levels of any given workforce,” he says.

Cédric’s innovative views on how the world of work might change and adapt in the coming years to better accommodate the needs of the workplace are also at the heart of IOSH’s new Student Membership category, which is celebrating its one-year anniversary this month. Designed to support people from the UK and worldwide who are new to the occupational safety and health profession, Student Membership is an important step in helping to upskill and mentor young OSH professionals and nurture the flow of talent as demand grows. Working with young innovators to create healthier and safer workplaces for everyone is a significant part of the mission.

Cédric’s dynamic research earned him an Inspiring OSH Student Award during the 33rd Asia Pacific Occupational Safety and Health Organization (APOSHO 33) annual conference last year in Hong Kong. The conference, which was hosted by IOSH, saw professionals, policy makers and government officials exchange ideas and initiatives, focusing on the importance of collaboration to create safer workplaces globally.

The Inspiring OSH Student Award is an initiative developed by IOSH and APOSHO to recognise and showcase the innovative and creative work of OSH students. It proved to be the perfect platform for Cédric to showcase his research.

“I have attended many such international events throughout my working career and without doubt APOSHO was up there as one of the best,” Cédric says, recalling the prestigious event, where he donned a stylish kilt as a reminder of his passion for studying in Scotland.

Cédric wasn’t the only inspiring student whose success was highlighted during APOSHO. Around 30 OSH students from Hong Kong studying IOSH-accredited courses attended the event, relishing in the opportunity to engage with industry veterans, provide their own viewpoints and sharpen their networking skills.

Fellow University of Strathclyde alumnus Rens Duisters - who coincidentally studied the same course as Cédric - also received an Inspiring OSH Student Award during APOSHO 33. Following a number of years working as a health and safety professional, Rens is currently European Director Safety, Health, Environment at Rentokil Initial, where he works with people in countries around the world from different cultural backgrounds and with different local practices.

“I felt absolutely honoured and thrilled receiving the award,” Rens says. “I have worked very hard to complete my MSc alongside a challenging international position. When you not only receive positive feedback from the University but are also recognized for your work by OSH professionals and selected as winner in a global competition, it makes you feel very proud.”

Rens’s award was informed by the knowledge gained during his years working as a health and safety professional, where he encountered several situations where contractors were exposed to hazards caused by the same root cause: failure in communication. This prompted him to investigate the effectiveness of safety communication with contractors. Next to safety communication itself, he investigated if the use of marketing communication methods could be used to increase the effectiveness of safety communication and with that influence the behaviour of contractors.

“The evidence of my study shows that while there is substantial safety communication with contractors, the quality and effectiveness could be improved,” Rens says. “My research suggests when integrating safety communication, companies should consider using tailor made communication towards their audience enhancing understanding of, and identification with, the message sent by the company. A combination of marketing techniques with safety communication could, when all steps of the theory are applied, be used to positively influence safe behaviour of contractors.”

Cédric was joined on stage by Philip Leung, a health and safety professional from Hong Kong who works as a Safety Trainer. Previously a Quality System Manager for setting up and maintaining ISO9001 in various companies and trades, Philip’s latest role sees him delivering an important course in Hong Kong which is recognised by the Labour Department and is required to receive a Green Card for carrying out construction work.

Philip studied for a BSc in Occupational Safety, Health and Environment at the Open University, Hong Kong in partnership with Middlesex University. APOSHO 33 was the first time Philip had attended an event of such a magnitude, and he learned a lot from the presentations and conversations he had with other OSH professionals during the event.

Philip's research explored issues surrounding people falling from heights, which is the primary hazard in construction and maintenance works in Hong Kong.  

“The consequences of this in Hong Kong are well documented, and 'falls from height' were attributed to 48% of the total industrial accidents in Hong Kong in 2015, based on data from the Labour Department,” Philip says. “My study involved a significant literature review followed by interviews with management staff, allowing me to use this feedback to further develop training that works to prevent this hazard and keeps workers safe.”

Cédric, Rens and Philip have all enhanced their careers through their Higher Education pursuits, using the knowledge and skills they have gained to further their professional development. Their success at APOSHO is a testament to their hard work and passion for their industry and professions. They hope other students and young professionals will consider working in occupational safety and health and studying related courses at university.

“Before students find a job in OSH, it is worthwhile to study courses in OSH to obtain the basic knowledge needed,” Philip advises. “For those students who are the current safety personnel or practitioners, it is a good time to enhance their knowledge and to apply theories into their daily work.”

If you want to be successful in OSH it is important to have a strong knowledge, but what is almost equally important are personal skills. You need to be able to explain and convince people of how to improve their way of working. It is also important to check how procedures are lived up to in practice: so go outside and get dirty!” Rens says.

Cédric’s advice to people considering working in occupational safety and health is, quite fittingly, focused on the future of the global workplace and emerging technologies.

“The best advice I can give is to never stop learning, especially in STEM subjects, along with attaining OSH knowledge through relevant education, professional training and work experience,” he says.

"Occupational safety and health need to meet unprecedented challenges of digitalisation, artificial intelligence and cybersecurity. These issues demand collaboration between humans and robots.

“I believe that all the health and safety management of traditional working practices will be profoundly affected - and as such anyone deciding to pursue a career in OSH is guaranteed an exciting journey.”

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