HSE’s Chair pays tribute to George Brechin

The Chair of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has paid tribute to fellow Board member George Brechin OBE, who passed away on Saturday 17 October after a short illness.

Sarah Newton said:

“We all feel great sadness about this news. 

“In addition to being the senior member of the Board, offering guidance to his peers to help them settle in and make an effective contribution to HSE’s governance, George worked closely with colleagues leading HSE’s EU Exit Programme, providing assurance to the Board that this immensely important work was continuing at the right pace and delivering its objective of supporting the work to prepare the United Kingdom for a future outside of the European Union. He was also a member of the Board’s Renumeration and People Committee; a role which was reflective of his interest in our people.

“George took every opportunity to engage with HSE colleagues. He particularly valued the insight into the work of the various parts of the organisation that he gained from these opportunities. His interest was genuine and he was always very gracious in recognising everyone’s contribution to our mission, particularly at Board meetings.

“He will be sorely missed by the health and safety community in Scotland where his connections and understanding of working in a devolved nation made him a brilliant Chair of the Partnership on Health and Safety in Scotland (PHASS). His meticulous attention to fairness and balance (and his good humour) at PHASS events encouraged mutual respect amongst partners from very different viewpoints and constituencies. George’s knowledge but above all his commitment made him such a strong leader in HSE’s work to engage with others to improve workplace health and safety.

“George epitomised what it is to be a public servant. Starting at the Department of Health in London in 1972, he moved to the NHS in Scotland in 1988, holding three NHS Trust Chief Executive posts before his appointment to NHS Fife. ‘Retirement’ however did not slow him down. He was also a non-executive Board Member of Food Standards Scotland, Chair of the Scottish Teachers’ Pension Board and had recently been appointed as Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland. He was awarded the OBE in 2013.

“HSE and those who benefit from our work owe George a huge debt of gratitude.

“My thoughts, and those of the HSE Board, are with George’s family, friends and colleagues, both in HSE and the other organisations in which he served, who had the honour to know him and benefit from his wise counsel.”

Mims Davies, the Minister for Employment, said:

“George was an influential figure on the HSE Board, having served for over eight years alongside Dame Judith Hackitt, Martin Temple and Sarah Newton. A Board member who was extremely well respected by all who worked with him and also amongst the wide variety of HSE stakeholders. He will be greatly missed by the HSE Board and the wider organisation.”