Safety conscious Ian wins silver at prestigious care industry awards

A health and safety advisor whose coal mining family history inspired him to fight for workplace health has won a coveted care industry award.

Published author Ian Fisher scooped silver in the Innovation in Health and Safety category of the Wales Care Awards 2016, organised by Care Forum Wales. The prestigious national awards, run by Care Forum Wales, acknowledge the hard work and exceptional performances of those in the care sector.

The 60-year-old, who grew up in the coalmining town of Ripley in Derbyshire, collected the gong at a glittering ceremony at City Hall in Cardiff.

The self-employed health and safety advisor, who retired in June this year after advising care home managers across South Wales, was inspired into the sector after watching his father, Arnold Fisher, and his grandfather before him retire from the coal industry with poor breathing, back problems and lung damage.

“I was born into a pit village and when I was growing up my father and his friends who were coal workers at that time would get to my age now and were old men. They couldn’t breathe, they had bad backs and knees,” said Ian, who lives in Wain Groves, Ripley, with his wife Dawn.

“When my friends’ fathers from another village became grandfathers they could play football with the kids and were still fit and healthy. The men from my village could not. Mining made life very difficult.

“I grew up feeling that it wasn’t fair, work shouldn’t affect your health. Right from a teenager I was interested in public health and my background is probably another reason why I’m involved in local politics.

“You do these things because you want to make a difference. I’m hopeful that I have somewhere along the way.”

Author of the textbook Health and Safety for Supervisors (Level 3), Ian was determined from an early age to change things for the better for workers across a range of industries and trained to become an environmental health officer.

He was nominated by Hallmark Care Homes where he has worked as a self-employed health and safety advisor for the past 12 years, regularly visiting the firm’s seven care homes based in Wales to advise on health and safety matters and playing a key advisory role during building work at Greenhill Manor Care Home in Pentrebach, near Merthyr Tudfil.

“I’ve always had a very good relationship with Hallmark and am really proud of the way the family-run business has developed. It has moved on very well and I’ve always been proud to be a part of it,” he said.

One of the highlights of Ian’s career was being asked by leading training publisher, Highfield Publishers, who he had advised on health and safety training materials, to put his vast experience and knowledge into a book.

The resulting book, Health and Safety for Supervisors (Level 3), is now used widely throughout the care industry and is the official text book for the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health’s (MCIEH) training course CIEH Level 3 Health and Safety for Supervisors.

In his TV work Ian, who was educated at Ripley Technical Grammar School, has worked on a number of productions for the Aged Care Channel covering a range of subjects from food hygiene and nutrition through to fire safety investigation and health and safety.

“I was used as a consultant on the script initially and then I was involved as a presenter,” said Ian, who studied environmental health at Trent Polytechnic, now Nottinghamshire Trent University.

While working with Hallmark Care Homes, the advisor has overseen implementation of a new health and safety strategy across its portfolio, which has included delivering training and advice to up to 30 properties over the years.

“I always felt that health and safety in a health care setting wasn’t an add-on,” he said.

“I always tried to explain to my clients that improving the quality of the care they provided was improving health and safety. If you’re delivering good quality care then it is safe.”

Nominating Ian for his award, Aneurin Brown, hospitality services manager for Hallmark Care Homes, said: “Ian is 100% dedicated to enabling the teams at Hallmark to provide safe and healthy environments for our residents, the team and visitors.”

He added: “Ian has a firm belief that health and safety should not be used as an excuse or to prevent an activity going ahead but rather focuses on enabling the team and residents to do things safely and where appropriate take positive risks.”

Mario Kreft MBE, the Chair of Care Forum Wales, said the standard of entries was extremely high.

He added: “There are only winners here tonight so it is only fitting that the finalists will receive a gold, silver or bronze Wales Care Award.

“I trust that they will continue to inspire those around them as role models and encourage others to aspire to even greater heights in the months and years to come.

“This awards ceremony is our opportunity to pay tribute and to celebrate the talent and commitment that is improving the quality of life for thousands and thousands of people throughout Wales.

“We take our hats off to them.”