Health and safety professionals will often be appointed by an organisation to manage the occupational health and safety management system and to monitor its implementation. They are good at their job and, certainly because of the culture in which they are raised, understand just what is happening in the country that in which they are residing.

When I was a child, going "overseas" was a big thing. A trip to Europe was considered to be a luxury—something looked forward to, which involved train travel, a sea voyage, and horror of horrors, policemen standing on street corners being armed with hand guns.

Now it is not unusual for British people to drive their cars onto a car train transporter, go to France for a couple of hours, go shopping, and return on the same day. How small perhaps our world has become!

What does this mean for the safety professional?

  • Easy migration of workforce labour, bring varying cultures into the working environment.

  • The opportunity to work overseas

  • The responsibility for overseas jurisdictions.

In the early 1990s, the author took the step of moving overseas. I went from working within the confines of British Industry to being an expatriate, a safety manager in a foreign land. After returning "home," work has increasingly been on an international front. I now manage the functional areas of responsibility across Europe, Middle East and Africa. Language difficulties aside, there is a huge learning curve that must be negotiated in order that the safety professional may be effective in the international role.

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