IOSH Gibraltar Associate Branch developed out of the Occupational Safety and Health Group which was established in 2004. Most local health and safety practitioners, and those involved with health and safety at work, joined the Group and membership soon stood at approximately sixty. The Group got involved in the organising of local Health and Safety events such as the annual Health and Safety seminar which, on occasions, attracted in excess of 400 delegates to the John Mackintosh Hall theatre.
The seminars included local speakers and guest speakers from abroad, on most occasions including leading member of the IOSH (Institution of Occupational Safety and Health), such as the President, Immediate Past President or Chief Executive of the Institution which led to a close relationship between the Group and IOSH and the Chairman, himself a Chartered Fellow of IOSH, who argued that the Group should be given IOSH Branch status. IOSH repeatedly stated that this was not possible; that a minimum of 400 members was required in order to constitute a Branch - this was simply unachievable.
The battle was not over and the Group continued to argue its case. In 2010, at the invitation of the Group, an IOSH Vice President came to Gibraltar to address the yearly seminar. He has ties with Gibraltar and took a special interest. He argued Gibraltar’s case and managed to change the way of thinking of the IOSH executive and a new level of ‘Branch’ was introduced - Associate Branch.
In 2012 Gibraltar became the first Associate Branch with the idea that, if it was successful in Gibraltar, other Associate Branches would be formed in places which were in a similar situation, such as the Channel Islands. The Gibraltar Associate Branch developed well, organising yearly seminars, taking part in the annual Workers Memorial Day commemorations, setting up a stall at the bi-annual Government of Gibraltar Careers Fair and other relevant events. It would secure an interesting and relevant speaker for its annual general meetings and kept IOSH fully informed, it would thus often feature in the IOSH online news.
One day, in early 2015 and completely out of the blue, the Gibraltar Associate Branch was informed that the ‘trial’ was over and IOSH had unilaterally decided to abolish the Gibraltar Associate Branch. The reaction from Gibraltar was immediate, the chairman of the Gibraltar Associate Branch threatened to return his IOSH President Distinguished Service Certificate, which had been awarded to him in 2012, and also threatened to resign his membership. The Gibraltar Government Minister with responsibility for health and safety wrote to the president of IOSH requesting an explanation.
IOSH must have been embarrassed. A letter, blaming an executive who had left IOSH, was sent to the Branch, giving a guarantee that the Gibraltar Associate Branch would remain. The Gibraltar Government Minister received a similar explanation. As a result the Gibraltar Associate Branch was given its own IOSH email address, email@example.com, and events organised in Gibraltar were circulated by IOSH to its members. The Associate Branch now regularly features in the IOSH on line publications and IOSH are always keen to be informed of activities organised by the Gibraltar Associate Branch.
In October last year the Associate Branch, in association with Unite the Union and the Government of Gibraltar, organised a very successful seminar in the theatre of the John Mackintosh Hall. It was very well attended and was supported by the Chief Minister and several other Ministers. The theme was taken from the IOSH national campaign on preventing occupational skin cancer. There were several speakers, both local and from UK. Speakers included the Unite the Union National Health and Safety Advisor who is no stranger to Gibraltar, and also included the IOSH president, a University Lecturer who delivered an excellent address. So successful was the theme that GBC television produced a View Point programme exclusively on the topics discussed at the seminar and IOSH was so impressed that it has made use of the programme to further promote the campaign.
The IOSH Gibraltar Associate Branch continues with its mission which is to promote a good health and safety culture in Gibraltar. It encourages all Health and Safety practitioners in the area to join and thus exchange ideas and experiences. The Associate Branch serves to inform its members of health and safety related activities and promulgate information.