The podcast provides a positive outlook for the HSE which one would expect. Hackett talks about the need for the HSE to dispel the myths that have been promoted throughout the media and the lack of credibility of the regulator discussed by many in the UK, such as Jeremy Clarkson. Addressing these issues is an important long-term goal that could have been avoided if the communication strategies of the HSE over the last couple of decades had been different.
Government departments in England must contend with a largely combative tabloid press that in most countries is absent. However, the tabloid press has existed for a long time and government departments and authorities should have had a media strategy that could have responded quickly to OHS criticisms and ridicule. Moreover any media strategy should not be reactive but one that educated the media about the reality of industrial incidents and the relevance of psychosocial hazards to OHS.
Many of the media reports on “silly OHS” show actions and decisions by people who have not been adequately informed and go off half-cocked. OHS regulators are now trying to address misperceptions that would not have developed if the regulators had been more engaged with the press earlier.
Many absurd actions and decisions are not motivated by OHS concerns but by the fear of being sued under public liability. SafetyAtWorkBlog has a strong fear that OHS regulators around the world will regret the day when the direct safety of the public from work processes was encompassed under OHS legislation.