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Health and safety champion: HRH The Duke of Edinburgh

   Health and safety champion: HRH The Duke of Edinburgh

On Friday the 9th of April, as a nation we were shocked to hear about the passing of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. As many people will know at RoSPA, both past and present, we are acutely familiar with his contribution to the world of health and safety.
Our direct relationship with the Duke started with his presidency of RoSPA’s World Congress on the Prevention of Occupational Accidents and Diseases in 1964. And shortly after we were privileged when Prince Philip accepted the position of President of RoSPA in 1965, a post which he held until 1968.

In our archive we have a wonderful array of records and highlights from this period in our charity’s story. For instance in 1966 when we celebrated our Golden Jubilee, where Her Majesty and Prince Philip visited our Golden Jubilee Transportable Exhibition. This was also the year in which HRH Princess Anne passed her cycling proficiency test, along with more than 150,000 other children. And of course, more recently our centenary garden party which was hosted at Buckingham Palace in 2017.
It is beyond any doubt that Prince Philip was a tremendous ambassador for industrial safety, urging employers to increase their accident prevention activities and highlighting the individual tragedies that industrial accidents and diseases can bring to ordinary families. And the evidence now speaks for itself, with the UK having amazing success in OSH, cutting the fatality rate year on year for decades, to 111 fatal accidents among employees in GB workplaces in 2019/20.
However, it is only since his death that we have started to learn so much more about the man, from his early childhood, to his service in the Royal Navy during World War II, and his many, many accomplishments in public service, performing his duties as the longest-serving consort in British history.
We also have to admire his reputation for being both tough and adventurous. For example, his passion for polo which saw him involved in the sport for more than 60 years, and his enjoyment of carriage driving, where he competed on the international stage. This was a man who certainly didn’t avoid risk.
It is, without doubt, Prince Philip’s many achievements and influence that have, perhaps unknowingly, reached into the everyday lives of us all. What is unquestionable is that he had a direct hand in helping to save and improve the lives of countless people, by encouraging employers to improve the standard of workplace safety. He’ll also be remembered by many for his unfaltering pursuit to empower young people, which, as a result, has enriched the lives of so many through exhilarating learning experiences.

Therefore, I pay tribute to his marvellous Duke of Edinburgh Awards scheme, which in the UK alone, has had 6.7 million participants, including myself in 1980. It’s a programme that encourages young people from all backgrounds to be the best people  they can be - offering opportunities to those who may not normally be able to access activities; activities that form long-lasting building blocks for continued personal growth. And in doing so, giving them the confidence to take risks safely. Just as he did throughout his life.

As I reflect, I can see clearly that it’s not all about past achievements, the real test of a legacy is how his actions now translate to the modern day.

Today RoSPA is proud to not only maintain, but drive forward his inspirational legacy by relentlessly pursuing our evidence-based approach to safety…wherever people are and whatever they are doing.

There are many examples of how we are doing this, such as the successful three-year daylight saving trial - which was found to have saved around 2,500 deaths and serious injuries each year of the trial period – and our current attempt to get us onto BST all year to save lives today

We will continue our tireless pursuit to achieve our vision of life, free from serious injury by reinforcing our approach to training, qualifications, and showcasing our membership awards, while continually highlighting the changing pattern of injury described by our NAPS, and the value of RoSPA programmes such as the RSA falls prevention hub, [email protected]@Home and Safer by Design.

Yes there is much work still to do, but as we strive forward we can do this confidently, by demonstrating the same commitment and dedication that Prince Philp has shown us throughout his life.

For this we are grateful and we recognise his significant contribution with enormous gratitude. Prince Philip will be sadly missed, but we will continue to build on his legacy, and pursue our mission - to exchange life-enhancing skills and knowledge to reduce serious accidental injuries.
Errol Taylor,
Chief Executive Officer,

Posted: 4/19/2021 3:25:15 PM 0 comments


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