Special pre-conference interview with professor Andrew Sharman

by Fleming. Team

  • Prof. Andrew Sharman
  • Chief Executive, President Elect, Chairman
  • RMS Switzerland, IOSH, Institute of leadership & Management, Switzerland
Learn more about Prof. Sharman

Together with Mr. Sharman, who is chairman at HSE Excellence Europe conference (24 – 26 April 2019, Amsterdam, Netherlands), we've looked closer at perceptions of occupational safety and health within the organizations in the early 2000s and now, including the importance of well-being, evolution of the conference throughout the years, his new book and more.


1. Professor Sharman, you have been a crucial part of HSE Excellence Europe for an unbelievable 13 years now. How do you see the evolution of the conference?

Back in 2006, HSE Excellence was a small conference with a limited audience – those keen to look to the cutting edge and learn. Now, our audience continues to return to seek new ideas, debate issues and challenge their own thinking – but there’s many more people involved – over 200 last year alone! We’ve systematically grown the event by searching out the very best speakers and broadened our perspectives on what participants want to see, hear, learn and focus on. We take feedback seriously and listen carefully to what participants tell us each year, in the spirit of continuous improvement.


2. Comparing the perceptions of occupational safety and health within the organizations in the early 2000s with now, where do you see the biggest differences?

Health and safety has been on a journey in the last two decades, for many organizations moving from a culture of compliance to a culture of care. This is illustrated well in the shift from ‘command and control’ type audits, through behaviour-based safety approaches, to now being much broader in perspective and putting people at the heart of health and safety.


3. In addition to your role as Chairman of the 14th Annual HSE Excellence Europe conference (24 – 26 April, 2019, Amsterdam, Netherlands), you will also chair the strategic debate: “What is the real cost of safety?” Can you give us a little sneak peek, from your point of view, into this topic?

We introduced the idea of debates into our event a few years back and they really excite our audience. Discussing the cost of H&S has been a thorny issue for some time, with many practitioners and business leaders backing off from talking about ‘cost’ and ‘safety’ in the same sentence – but in fact, it’s totally valid to discuss them together – and we should! We have assembled a fantastic panel for the debate – who should be prepared to be encouraged and provoked into sharing what they really think in this ‘no-holds-barred’ discussion with questions coming live in real time from the audience, and me!


4. This year, the conference program is devoted equally to health, safety and environment topics. What is your opinion on the status/position of environment in HSE? Do you think that “E” is still considered as having a small “e” within HSE?

This depends on your perspective. It’s normal for practitioners to have a bias, a favorite subject, or a stronger interest in one element and less in others, but at HSE Excellence, we see all vitally important for the success of the organization – that’s why we’ll focus equally on all three.


5. A special pre-conference workshop on why wellbeing matters is an important part of this event. How do you see the future of wellbeing? Where are the opportunities and the threats within workplace wellbeing in the future?

We’ve all heard the news – that health and wellbeing need more attention in the workplace. There are tens of thousands more instances of work-related ill health than there are workplace accidents, so organizations keen to demonstrate that they truly care (about their people, and their bottom line), need to step up and think harder about health and wellbeing. Mental health is a key area to focus on, as is the pressures and pleasures of modern life – not just stress, but the way we treat our bodies and minds: constant attachment to email and mobile devices; increased travel - by road, rail and air; an increase for many in sedentary work activities; and the over-consumption of ‘easy’ food and alcohol are all showing clear signs of damage to our bodies and brains.
Cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes and chronic lung diseases are now the four main causes of non-communicable disease death, making up around 70% of all deaths (around 17 million) across the world each year. By the year 2030, the figure will top 24 million. The way we’re working clearly isn’t working.


6. Recently, you & Hari Kalymnios have published a new book about Wellbeing. Can you give us a short intro about this book?

As our lives get busier and busier, boundaries between work and leisure blur and we spend less time thinking about what we’re actually putting our bodies through. This fast living is resulting in a pandemic of ‘ill-being’: from general weariness and ‘feeling under the weather’ to prolonged bouts of sickness, lethargy and sharp increases in stress, depression and mental health issues. ‘Working Well’ sets out the five truths for a happier, healthier, longer life. Taking cutting-edge science, global data and inspirational thinking from the likes of Bruce Lee, Isaac Newton, George Bernard Shaw, Barack Obama and Yoko Ono, we serve up a slice of easy-to-swallow practical guidance delivered through a straightforward five-step process we call SONAR. Find out more on the book at www.maverickeaglepress.com