• David Sharp
  • 9 September 2016

International Workplace Conference: Southeast Asia review

Presenters at the International Workplace Conference Southeast Asia, including Dr Norsaidatul Mazelan of ThinkPlus Consulting, Anthony Wong and Sebastian Wong of Singapore American School, and David Sharp and Danny Cousins of International Workplace.

IFSEC is the world’s largest security, fire and safety exhibition brand, now in its 43rd year and with a growing international footprint. Already well established in Kuala Lumpur, this year’s show incorporated the International Workplace conference, a programme of six seminars that represented our company’s first international speaker event.

For us, it was a great opportunity to present our knowledge and expertise in the areas of health and safety and sustainability, but in the context of the southeast Asian market – so as much of a chance to listen as to talk. And there was plenty of talk about safety, following a fatal accident that took place in KL last month (see below for more).

Keeping to the theme of safety and security, the first of my two sessions was on resource scarcity, making the point that lack of, or disrupted access to, finance, raw materials, labour or even to customers was as much as, if not a greater threat, than the more obvious physical security issues being addressed within the exhibition itself. While it was good to draw on some case studies from the UK and Europe, the supply chain impact of the 2011 Thailand floods was the one that resonated most, where the country responsible for producing nearly half of all the world’s computer hard drives saw its industrial output reduced by 40% in just one week.

International Workplace’s Danny Cousins presented sessions updating delegates on ISO 45001 and fire safety, with the latter perhaps inevitably proving to be the best attended session at the conference with the exhibition audience in mind.

We were delighted to have invited a couple of local partners to present at the conference to ensure it reflected not just the subject matter but also the culture of the region.

Dr Norsaidatul Mazelan from ThinkPlus Consulting gave a presentation on safety and sustainability in Malaysia and its role in helping to deliver the country’s goal of becoming a fully developed high income nation. The session was well-attended, covered a lot of ground, and audience feedback was very positive.

Anthony Wong and Sebastian Wong from Singapore American School delivered a really informative presentation on travel risk management, giving an insight into the amount of planning that goes into looking after the hundreds of its students and staff who take part in educational visits and secondments throughout the world every year.

Listening to them made me realise how difficult it must be to strike a balance between the conflicting objectives of the region’s (if not the world’s) leading private school: on the one hand, encouraging students to explore the world both metaphorically and literally in furtherance of their personal development; and on the other hand ensuring they are exceptionally well looked after as part of a programme Anthony and Sebastian describe as 'extraordinary care'.

For the final conference session it fell to me to introduce IOSH Blueprint, the recently launched competency framework produced by the Institution that can be applied equally to anyone undertaking a health and safety role anywhere in the world. It’s a fantastic tool for individuals to help them plan their career development; for organisations to help with L&D strategy and operations; and for training providers like us to help us map our course offering against client requirements. International Workplace has been one of a small number of stakeholder partners engaging in helping IOSH with the development of Blueprint, and it was a pleasure to see it so well received here in Malaysia.

As I mentioned at the outset, IFSEC SEA 2016 took place just a few weeks after a young local woman was killed when the hook from a large construction crane became detached and fell on her car. Initial investigations into the accident brought outrage when it was revealed that the Malaysian Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) has only 12 safety inspectors to carry out checks, with over 600 building sites in one area of the country alone. It will be interesting to see how the authorities respond to the challenge.

Thanks to everyone at IFSEC Southeast Asia for making us so welcome. There’s been much to learn and I hope we gave as good as we got.