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#1 Posted : 19 February 2001 13:02:00(UTC)
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Posted By Michael Webb
I notice that national radio are running a story about a council in Doncaster (?) that spent X thousands of pounds training staff to change lighbulbs and climb ladders safely. The radio stations reported the news in a way that seemed to suggest this was a waste of time and tax payers money. The councils response was that they take health and safety very seriously - l can imagine what people are thinking !
What do others think? Should IOSH comment on this issue?
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#2 Posted : 20 February 2001 08:32:00(UTC)
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Posted By Ken Taylor
RoSPA get this sort of response from the press from time to time too. Witness also a former television 'Top Gear' presenter who has transferred from mocking cars he doesn't like to a lampooning a comic 'health and safety' character. It can be quit annoying as I have reason to believe that some safety professionals now avoid or curtail legitimate comment to the news media on important safety matters in order to avoid a counter-productive response. I suspect that the same mockers will be first to complain of a lack of preventative action if they or their nearest and dearest become the recipients of injury.
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#3 Posted : 20 February 2001 11:06:00(UTC)
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Posted By Ian Harper
The laughing public may be laughing at the way the information was portrayed. I work in the same environment you described and would have no heisitation in taking on the radio station with the costs to the taxpayers of lost time and compensation claims. To many saftey managers assume that the outside world is keyed in to health and safety and the real answer is that they are not.

When information is potrayed like this then we must all ensure that it is put into context with such tools as cost benifit studies and the like.

On the other hand if they are spending thousands on areas with little risk and low costs what is being missed elsewhere?

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#4 Posted : 20 February 2001 13:43:00(UTC)
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Posted By Jay Joshi
This is an HSE Press Release headline dated today- 20 February 2001 "DONCASTER COUNCIL FINED £400,000 FOR DEATH OF ELECTRICIAN";David Cotton, Head of Operations of HSE in the region said:"I hope this fine will bring home to all employers, whether in the private or public sector, the high price of not properly discharging their responsibilities of ensuring the safety of people working on their property "

John Cullen, Head of HSE's Services Sector said:"There is a lesson here too for all public bodies. Ministers and HSE expect public bodies to be exemplars in Health and Safety matters under proposals for revitalising Britain's Health and Safety system".

Although this accident had nothing to do with ladder safety training, there is a significant "resource/funding" shortfall to raise the in-house standards of Health & Safety in Local Authorities, especially if they are to set examples of good/best practice as stated in Revitalising Health & Safety.

Purely from a Civil Liability/Compensation context, how many local authorities, especially DLO's have documentation/records that DEMONSTRATE delivery of training--even in supposedly simple matters such as using ladders--basically, the media will report anything that makes headlines without providing a balanced viewpoint--I do not know the details of the broadcast, but the radiostation should have had an officer of the council to give the council's view. It would be interesting to know how this cost of thousands was calculated--my guess is that it includes the "hourly rate" of the operatives who were not productive whilst undergoing the training !!!!

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#5 Posted : 21 February 2001 00:42:00(UTC)
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Posted By Ken Urquhart
Michael.

Whether or not IOSH comments on such items routinely ,some of the ways to counter the media's sometimes cynical approach to Health & Safty issues is to create a local liaison.

By this I mean through the local IOSH Branch, or some other lcal Safety Group.

Appoint a Press/Public Relations Officer.(Some of the Branch members may have PR specialists within their companies HQ teams and may be able to offer help and guidance through them - Check your Press releases or review your comments before you issue them - help avoid the pitfalls)

Maybe a topic for a Branch meeting - "The Media and Health & Safety". Why not invite the Editor of the local Newspaper or the Regional newspaper or the Regional TV station News Desk as guest speaker.

Design a Press Release Proforma and target the local press, the local Radio station and the regional TV station.
Make contact with these organisations and develop a relationship with there specialist journalists, eg: The Business Correspondent for Industry safety topics.
You do not necessarly have to be speaking as IOSH when or if you issue a press release and you are approached by the media for follow up, or if you challenge an item or a topic that has been printed or broadcast.You can be speaking as a Safety Practitioner.

Take care to present a non partisan view. Comment generally and in broad terms. Refer the media to the many sources and resources that are available to them and the public to further their awareness of or interest in a particular issue and the related Health and safety understanding.
(Web sites such as IOSH, HSE,BSC,Professional Institutions for the many and varied professions that are involved in industry and commerce, most of whom have web sites and, publish opinions/guidance on Health & Safety for there members, Trade Associations also have web sites and issue H&S comment, as do local Chambers of Commerce and Business Forums. Refer them also to the Trades Union web sites, international H&S web sites of other countries/governments and Safety Bodies of those countries.
All this will help demonstrate that H&S issues are global and economically important in this modern age.

Use special Safety promotion weeks such as European Health & safety Week to promote local awareness.
Or National Child safety Week, (If you are a Construction business you may support that week by highlighting: "Construction Sites are NOT Play Places" - Prevent Child accidents and deaths, tell and involve the community in what you are doing to raise awareness, preventing child trespass and possible accidents on Construction sites).
If your own company/organisation is involved get media coverage for it. A local company developing a good relationship and Safety News record with its local media can mean that you get approached as a reliable and unbiased source of Safety opinion in the future and on H&S issues other than your own.
Through this contact you can speak not only for your own organisation, but for Health & safety in general.

Watch the national and local media for items on Safety. eg: Railtracks "Track Off Campaign" of last year. This was aimed at discouraging trespass and vandalism on the Railways.
Or if you operate in a rural area where say Agricultural industry figures large and there are campaigns about Farm and Children on Farm type accidents, then as a local group issue a Press Release supporting these major initiatives.
Outline that the member companies of your Branch or local Safety group have all been encouraged or have committed (as the case may be) to do whatever thy can within their business's in the period of the campaign or whatever to help spread the mesage. They are as some may be, reviewing there systems of work, retraining there people to take account of new or more defined hazards. Or they are holding briefing's about safety when delivering to Farms if they are Agricultural suppliers etc., etc.,

I suppose what we are really trying to do is to sell H&S as a concept but we need a new name for it. Through our comment and activities I believe we have to turn the issue on its head, enthuse people to see the benefits and eventually get them to take ownerhip and drive the change. (As has happened to some extent with the Railways, albeit in the wake of and motivated by recent disasters) An earlier contributor made this point in as much as the Media want Banner headlines and Blame apportioned when a major incident occurrs;-
But generally the daily efforts and initiatives of the thousands of committed individuals and organisations who seriously manage there Health & safety responsibilities goes generally un-noticed.
Lets help change that.
Regards.
Ken Urquhart
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#6 Posted : 21 February 2001 15:27:00(UTC)
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Posted By Website Co-ordinator
Dear Michael and all who are interested in this topic,

Ken has given a useful response here that enables me to expand on what IOSH has currently been working on as well as commenting on the ideas raised and how they might be used in conjunction with IOSH Media / Public Relations Officer, Stephen Dain. I shall also touch on some of the pitfalls that all practitioners should be aware of before venturing into the media arena alone.

Branch Press Officer
If your branch already has a Branch Press Officer, please let head office know. All branches should already have a copy of the Events Review Policy that gives guidelines on working with the press and media, but if you need extra copies, just ask.

Do bear in mind that branches should not be speaking on behalf of IOSH as an Institution, unless this has been agreed IN ADVANCE with the PR Department. Not only will this help in ensuring information is presented consistently but it also assists with coverage for the spokesperson regarding personal liability and in protecting IOSH from legal claims.

Speakers
If you do use a media topic for a branch meeting, when looking for speakers, don't forget that IOSH staff include PR professionals who are on your side and available to speak at this kind of event! IOSH's Corporate Communications Sub-Committee, with the PR Department, is developing a database of members who can be called upon to give their expert knowledge and to comment on issues that arise in the media. If you would like to be considered as an IOSH speaker, please contact the PR Department and let us have your details to put to the committee.

Branch Liaison Co-ordinator
With the new appointment to this post, the intention is to work more closely with branches on both the organisation and promotion of their events. The PR Department can help with both pre-event promotion and post-event reviews, either through issuing of targeted press releases or via the pages of the Safety & Health Practitioner. Stephen Dain, IOSH Media / PR Officer has written to branch secretaries providing copy dates and guidelines to featuring events in the IOSH News pages of SHP. All branches are encouraged to utilise this function and if any branch representative would like clarification on these matters, please contact Stephen at The Grange, or e-mail: Stephen.Dain@iosh.co.uk

European Health and Safety Week
Now is certainly the time to be thinking ahead as to what your branch or company could do. IOSH is actively involved at national level and the International Affairs Officer will attend a planning meeting later in the Spring. We will let you know more as soon as possible.


Speaking as a Safety Practitioner
Getting the health and safety message across is all about individual members playing their part as practitioners and this is to be encouraged. What you as an individual need to bear in mind if your name is publicised is that, if you are employed, your employer approves of your intervention. Companies often have strict policies as to who is allowed to speak to the media. Such is the care with which they approach the subject that they are likely to provide media training to their spokespersons.

Extending practitioner skills
Anyone considering a course that includes presentation skills, should look at the IOSH professional development training course programme or contact Carolyn Welch or Zoe Whitehead in the Professional Affairs Department. Branch Officials will also receive a talk on media relations at their meeting at the Grange in October later this year.

In conclusion, many thanks Michael for starting this discussion, as I'm sure it will help raise members' awareness of the issues involved in publicising health and safety.

Regards

Liz Spencer
Head of Public Relations






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#7 Posted : 22 February 2001 08:31:00(UTC)
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Posted By Mike McDonnell
I also heard this broadcast, and to be fair to the local Authority concerned, in the broadcast I heard, the LA spokesperson gave a balanced response and did not take the bait being offered.
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