At the end of June 2019, IOSH’s OSH Research Manager Mary Ogungbeje attended the SAF€RA General Assembly. Here, she explores the outcomes of the event
How do you go about building a future partnership with some 20 members across Europe? No, I’m not talking about Brexit (thankfully)! I’m referring to a network of representatives from various countries that come together to share resources, ideas and ways of working to improve industrial safety, based on evidence.
The network is known as SAF€RA and comprises of various ministries, research institutes and funders. Its USP is that it has a collaborative approach to research programming – which helps to join-up learning, reduce costs and duplicated efforts, and further the dissemination of what’s been learnt so that there’s greater impact.
Hosted jointly by The Finnish Safety and Chemicals Agency (TUKES), Finnish Institute of Occupational Health and Finnish Work Environment Fund, SAF€RA members met on 25-26 June to review past achievements as well as plan the future direction.
But while there, what struck me was how different members, such as IOSH, with their own corporate identity, strategy and governance came together and took productive steps in a short space of time. I think it has something to do with respecting our differences while focusing on our commonalities. For us, the common goal was to explore how best SAF€RA’s work can make a real difference in industrial safety.
We accomplished much over the two days. Not only did we discuss strategy, but we found out about initiatives such as FIRE-IN (the first European Fire & Rescue Innovation network involving practitioners into research) and heard updates on SAF€RA projects that included 4STER - a two-year study looking to improve the integration of safety and security management. Through the power of networking we also had the opportunity to learn even more.
We left Helsinki concluding that the topic of the 2020 call would be on Safety concerns and opportunities related to advanced materials and new technologies in energy production and storage.
Not bad for a two-day meeting. Do you think the politicians could learn a thing or two from this approach?