In this GLASSi interview, James MacPherson, GGF Health, Safety and Environment Manager discusses his background, his plans for health, safety and the environment and previews two new and very different debates for GGF Members’ Week including; “Health and Safety the New and Different Normal” and “Our World, Our Future”, a look at how companies can play their part in helping the environment for future generations.
What attracted you to work for the GGF as Health, Safety, and Environment Manager?
I remember reading the job advert and it was hard to gauge at first. It sounded interesting, but I needed more details and when it was described to me, I immediately had visions of what that role could be. I was excited as this is an industry I am interested in.
Also, the challenges that the glass and glazing industry has from Health, Safety, and Environment are huge and complex and I was excited by the prospect of working with members to help them tackle those challenges. In addition, I think that trade associations are uniquely placed in the industry to coach and support members to succeed and drive change. With our relationships with stakeholders like the HSE (Health and Safety Executive), we can support members like no other trade body in our sector. However, I wasn’t sure if that’s where the GGF’s focus lay, a lot of trade associations mostly signpost and collect data, but I wanted to get stuck in. So after a great conversation with John Agnew (GGF Managing Director) it was clear that we both shared the same vision, that we could do more and be more for members. I was instantly sold. I then just had the task of passing the interviews!
In the short time you’ve worked in the glass and glazing industry, what do you see as the big health safety challenges for the GGF and for you personally on the health and safety front?
For Health and Safety, the biggest challenge is breaking down the complexity. Health and Safety as a profession is constantly going through change. Health and Safety professionals are becoming increasingly people focussed. The best way to explain it would be my own example. Now working for the GGF, I have never worked in glass and glazing so I can’t be a technical expert on the risks in the industry, but I can be an expert facilitator and coach of good health and safety practice and to ultimately help members. Similar to sport coaching, some of the best coaches were not the best players or even played the sport and this can be essentially an identity crisis for my profession – but a good one none the less. One of the big challenges for the Federation, is to help members ensure their safety systems reflect reality. A lot of us have safety clutter in our business and it’s a challenge to fix that. Another major challenge is to shift a common culture in companies from being simply “compliant” organisations to being resilient organisations and in doing so, enabling businesses to fail safely.
The GGF Health and Safety Committee is a long running part of the Federation, what is the status of this crucial committee?
I am really excited to be involved with this committee and I have my first meeting on the 28th September. I am keen for this committee to be refreshed and to become a “think tank” for improvement and innovation in Health and Safety. We have a great group already but if anyone is interested in joining, please contact me. You don’t have to know a thing about health and safety or have a NEBOSH, just an interest in betterment, a knowledge of the industry, and a curiosity for improvement.
I am also really keen to start an Environment Group to develop this side of the GGF, so keep your eye out for that and if people are interested in this side of the industry, then again, please don’t hesitate to let me know.
Over the last four or five years, the GGF has produced some very useful health and safety brochures, are you planning to add to the library?
For sure, we have a few codes of practice, booklets, etc. and just before I arrived, the GGF had produced two excellent Safe Guides for homeowners and installers with regard to COVID-19 guidance. Before we develop new guides, we’ll first, working with the Health and Safety Committee review the current library of publications. Thereafter, I want to build the resource for the members to use as and when it’s needed. I see this being an information and multi-media mix of in-depth industry-specific codes of practice, bitesize guides, articles, videos, podcasts, etc. It will take us time to build this, but I am looking forward to developing it.
You are hosting two webinars during GGF Members’ Week; on Health and Safety “A New and Very Different Norm” and on the Environment “Our World, Our Future”, what can Members tuning into these webinars expect?
I am really looking forward to this. I wanted to do something a little different, not to say what we are doing has never been done before, but a lot of the time when we go to conferences, especially Health and Safety ones we get spoken to or worse just sold to and don’t really learn anything.
So my aim is that members walk away from these webinars having learned something or have been inspired to make a difference. I am a huge fan of panel discussions. It’s a way for the audience to hear different sometimes even polarized opinions. So both the Health and Safety and Environment webinars, will have two very strong panels and I will be happy to host and moderate. Both will be about looking forward to the short medium and long term future. It has been an unbelievable year so far and I want us to focus on the future and how we can learn from this extraordinary year. Members who login will be hear varied discussion on the future relationships between trade bodies, influencers, enforcers, consultants and architects. Not something you’ll hear every day.
Finally, have you any plans for the GGF’s Health and Safety Merit Scheme – the GLASS Charter?
The Glass Charter is a huge part of what we offer to members, however it has had relatively low engagement regardless of updates and reviews. We will refresh it to ensure it becomes the scaffolding that enables members to grow and improve their health and safety practice, standards and culture. We want it to be the framework that we can coach members through, but also we want it to be of real benefit to members – not just a badge of honour or assessment but something that is more meaningful. How do we do that? Well first things first, we need to discuss with members and find out their views? Why are they engaged with it? Why they are they not engaged with it? What would they want to see from it? It must be developed with the members’ interests right at the very core. So in the near future, we will be surveying members and looking for them to discuss this with to help us develop the new Glass Charter.
To book your place at the Health and Safety webinar “A New and Very Different Norm” on 1 October (10.30am to 12 noon) please click on the banner below.
To book your place at the Our World, Our Future webinar on the environment on 1 October (3.30pm to 4.15pm) please click on the banner below.