About the HSE's Myth of the Month

Thursday, 3rd May '07 at 12:05
In last month's forum meeting there was a request from a number of members for an explanation of HSE's new 'Myth of the Month' feature. The below brief aims to address this.
What is happening?
In April 2007 HSE launched a web-based 'Myth of the Month' feature as part of its on-going Sensible Risk campaign. 'Myth of the Month' features a new cartoon each month until the end of 2007 and aims to put straight common myths about health and safety requirements. The first two myths tackled were 'HSE has banned stepladders' and 'Risk assessments must always be long and complex'. These can be accessed from the following links: The campaign relies upon traffic through HSE's website, support from stakeholder organisations and a degree of viral marketing to spread the word. In the first two weeks the myths web page received over 18,000 unique visitors. This receded any push on promotion either with the media or stakeholders (we wanted to get two myths up before giving them a push) ? we are now seeing many other web sites linking to the pages and expect visitor rates to go up rather than down.
Why this initiative?
Evidence shows that whilst some of the popular health and safety stories contain a grain of truth ? someone, somewhere really has made a silly decision ? the majority are based on myths. These cause damage as they are unwittingly picked up and acted upon by businesses, resulting in unnecessary costs and bureaucracy, whilst at the same time distracting attention from the real risks. 'Myth of the Month' aims to help businesses understand what is really required of them by using some humour and a bit of colour.
The link to simplification and reducing bureaucracy
We are currently working with stakeholders on further example risk assessments as well as stepping up promotion of the approach to regulatory staff, business managers and health and safety professionals.

May's myth? 'Risk assessments must always be long and complex' contributes to the promotion. The cartoon also features prominently in an article in the Guardian health and safety supplement due for publication on 4 May.

HSE has committed to reducing the administrative burden from risk assessment by 200 million between 2005 and 2010; this amounts to 40% of the total administrative savings HSE has promised. HSE has already revised its risk assessment guidance to emphasise a fit-for-purpose approach and published the first four example risk assessments, demonstrating what 'good enough' paperwork looks like.
What support could the Forum provide?
Without paid-for advertising we are relying heavily on promotion by stakeholders and word of mouth. We would ask stakeholder organisations to:
  • Include a few words on their web site and a link to the 'Myth of the Month' page;
  • Promote the initiative in their newsletters, including the URL for the web pages;
We would also be grateful for your feedback on 'Myth of the Month' by close of business on 31 May.

Many thanks,

Small Business Trade Association Forum Secretariat
please reply to: SBTAF.Secretariat@hse.gsi.gov.uk
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