Health and Safety – from Passion to Partnership

A few years ago, I found myself on a weekend crash course in comedy.  It wasn’t really a career move, just something I had on my bucket list.  On the first day, full of nerves, one of the very first things we were asked to do was to stand up in front of the room and have a five-minute rant about something that frustrated you.  Those weren’t the exact words, but I’m sure you can use your imagination.

So, there I am, in front of a room full of strangers, frantically swearing and gesticulating about why my visits to the self-service checkouts in the local supermarket are the worst moments in my entire life.  Yes, I really went for it, and quite surprised myself.  

As it turns out, I found myself quite often in pointless arguments with a computer-generated voice at the self-service checkouts, as I was ordered (yes ordered, the cheek of it!) to remove item after item from the bagging area, and to correct many other things it is easy to get wrong while making a simple supermarket purchase.

The point of this exercise soon became clear.  Firstly, it was going to provide the topic for my first stand up some forty-eight (yes, forty-eight) hours later, and secondly, having a rant about something is not only quite therapeutic, but allows you to access the comedic part of yourself that might otherwise remain hidden.  

Forty-eight hours later, I did indeed deliver my very first (and last) comedy stand-up, but there was something about the experience that is even more poignant, especially if you see yourself as a changemaker – someone trying to make a difference in the world.

Because to change something, anything, you must feel strongly about it.  Change is not easy and needs a lot of determination and resilience.  There are highs and lows, and you need to have a great deal of passion about your topic to see it through.  And if that passion is so strong that it verges on anger – anger at the misjustices in the world – then your passion cup is not just full but brimming over.

These days, I work in Health and Safety.  I am angry every time I see people get hurt or killed needlessly when a simple action could have prevented it, if only we were a bit more aware.  But as I work to create change in organisations, I know that there are other people in those same organisations who are also channelling their passion towards their own very commendable aims.  And this leads me to wonder how it would be if all this passion were combined, towards one common goal that everyone could buy into?  Imagine the power of getting together, getting rid of the duplication, and getting clear on the parts that combine to create a bigger whole?

This is what happens when Health and Safety professionals turn their passion into partnership.  Health and Safety is not a silo function.  It is part of a much bigger picture – a long-term focus on People which forms part of the wider aims of ESG.  And because this bigger picture exists, rather than muddying the waters, it makes them clearer, because there is the potential for common ground.  No more competing interests and conflicting goals, no more passion running over into frustration, only harmony, collaboration, and win-win-win.

When Health and Safety professionals see their organisation as being for them, rather than against them, because all of us want the same thing, then they are ready to turn their passion into partnership and become true business partners for everyone else in the organisation.  No more struggles to influence the groups of employees that don’t seem to take Health and Safety seriously, because now you seriously have the ear of the manager who has theirs. 

When you turn your passion into partnership, not only do you make your life easier, but you massively increase your impact, because everyone in the organisation becomes a champion for your lifesaving cause.  And that’s a rant worth channelling, isn’t it? 


Karen J. Hewitt is Director of Leaderlike Ltd, the Health and Safety Engagement specialists, supporting Health and Safety teams to become better business partners and increase their cross-company influence.  For more information on Leaderlike’s ‘Lifesaving Influence’ course for Health and Safety teams, email  To see Karen turning passion into partnership, click here – The Two Questions That Could Save Your Life.