Q&A with Stephen Asbury

Stephen Asbury is the author of six books for Routledge on safety and risk management, a director of the AllSafe Group, and an HSE consultant with over 30 years’ experience. Awarded the IOSH President's Distinguished Service Award in 2010, Stephen was the HSE Technical Discipline Manager for PetroSkills LLC (2006–16), and today is an instructor teaching their safety and HSE management training programs around the world.

1. Congratulations on the publication of your book Health and Safety Environment and Quality Audits,what do you want your audience to take away from the book?

As the Managing Director of a registered HSEQ certification body, as an IRCA and IEMA Lead Auditor, and as the author of the world’s best-selling book on HSEQ auditing over the last ten years, I have observed the practice of many HSE and quality auditors. I was often left feeling unimpressed by what I saw.

Certain behaviours and characteristics represent ineffective auditing. I want my readers to challenge their practice (if they are auditors) and to develop and demonstrate their competence against my risk-based auditing methodology, which I call The Audit Adventure. It is aligned to ISO 19011. Used effectively, this approach will project them into the small group of auditors who are really very, very good and add value to organisations’ performance. If you are not an auditor, I challenge you to hold those who audit you to these same messages.

2.What first attracted you to Health and Safety as an area of specialism?

As a young man, I studied law. In my first professional appointment, I dealt with employer’s liability insurance claims for a construction company. I saw the effects of working at height, woodworking machinery and exposure to chemicals upon human beings. Investigating these claims led me to discover that the worker or the supervisor commonly knew what should have been done or avoided to prevent the injury or ill-health. I decided that a career dedicated to predicting and preventing such losses would be an interesting and valued one. I’ve been doing it ever since. I have worked in over 70 countries on six continents with some of the world’s most prestigious companies.

3.What makes your book stand out from its competitors?

Frankly, the book is unique. Ten years after the first edition was published, it stands alone as the practical guide to conducting a risk-based management system audit in any type of organisation. This new third edition, published 16 April 2018 is the first book in the world to demonstrate in a practical manner how to use the new ISO standard for occupational health and safety, ISO 45001, to drive continual improvement in management and performance.

1.What is your academic background?

I studied law and then safety and risk management in the 1980s. I completed an MBA, awarded with Distinction, between 1992-1995 in Leicester. I studied to become a Six Sigma Green Belt in 2017, and I am presently completing my Ph.D. in London.

2.Who has influenced you the most?

From the early 1980’s I was fascinated by management system writers such as Tom Peters and Charles Handy. I have met them both. Eliyahu Goldratt inspired my thinking upon management processes, and William Edwards Deming provided grounded theory for my work to extend PDCA into the OH&S arena. It was subsequently followed by HSE, BSi, ILO and ISO.

3.Tell us an unusual fact about yourself and your teaching or writing style?

Some of my books have been developed to become training courses.

For example, the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) adopted my first CSR book for its “Do The Right Thing” CPD training course for its members, whilst my HSEQ Auditing book was adopted by PetroSkills, based in Texas and the world’s largest specialist petroleum training company. As a result, this book and the approach within it is being used to save lives and limbs all over the world.

4.What is the last book you read (non-academic)?

What Does This Button Do? – the autobiography of Bruce Dickinson.

5.You have been involved in a number of publications with Taylor and Francis, what has encouraged you to continue working with us?

This is my sixth book for Routledge Taylor and Francis, and the company has been very supportive of my work. I have worked with a succession of inspiring editors, and I can honestly say that I feel encouraged and very happy to be a member of this thoroughbred stable.

Other books by Stephen Asbury

  • The Practical Guide to Corporate Social Responsibility

    Do the Right Thing, 1st Edition

    By Stephen Asbury, Richard Ball

    Corporate social responsibility has gained substantial traction in recent decades but many still struggle with conveying the importance of integrating ethics and environmental and social values within the demands of a business world understandably concerned with making profit. First published in…

    Paperback – 2016-03-21

  • Dynamic Risk Assessment

    The Practical Guide to Making Risk-Based Decisions with the 3-Level Risk Management Model, 1st Edition

    By Stephen Asbury, Edmund Jacobs

    Dynamic Risk Assessment is the key tool to support a holistic risk management framework. This book aims to help employers, managers and staff alike to understand how they can effectively integrate dynamic risk assessment into business management processes and systems to improve safety. With tips,…

    Paperback – 2014-04-15

Health and Safety, Environment and Quality Audits

Health and Safety, Environment and Quality Audits includes the latest health and safety, environmental and quality management system standards – ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and ISO 45001. It delivers a powerful and proven approach to risk-based auditing of business-critical risk areas using ISO, or your own management systems. It connects the ‘PDCA’ approach to implementing management systems with auditing by focusing on the organization’s context and the needs and expectations of interested parties.