The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) used its first ever annual conference on 18 September to launch a new occupational health awareness campaign, Go Home Healthy, aimed at a broad spectrum audience ranging from employers, managers and employees to industry sector bodies.
Go Home Healthy is seen as an “umbrella” campaign, creating an overarching message that leads the audience to more specific guidance and information on the HSE’s three priority areas – occupational lung disease, MSDs and work-related stress. The conference was attended by an invited audience of around 300 employers, union representatives, health and safety bodies and sector groups, and was held at the Queen Elizabeth Conference Centre in Westminster.
Go Home Healthy centres on a website that links to HSE guidance, case studies, videos and thought leadership, on the three focal themes. There are also “partner pages” where web users can download collateral from other organisations. The campaign’s title of “Go Home Healthy” is said to represent the overall goal and “promise”, rather than an exhortation to workers to consider their own health risks.
Discussing the link with the sector plans, Peter Brown, the HSE’s deputy director of work and health, said: “We’re trying not to have health as a standalone, but to integrate health into the sector plans.
We think of the strategy as having ‘warp and weft’ – you can trace the threads of different issues across the various sectors, for example MSDs in the waste and recycling sector, and stress in the public services.”
Following the HSE’s stress summit in March 2017, attendees heard that there will be a summit on occupational lung disease in November this year, and a summit on MSDs in March 2018. At the conference, Brown explained that there will be a rolling programme of events every six months, with the themes of the conferences repeated every 18 months. In November 2018, there will be a second summit on stress, with the 18 month gap timed so that more evidence, case studies and learning will be available.
In terms of enforcement and inspection activity, Brown told Health and Safety at Work that the HSE’s three to five year plan would have various emphases throughout that time, with the manufacturing sector and MSD hazards being a current focus for inspectors in the HSE’s field operations team. “A big initiative for the Field Operations Division this year is to do inspections in the manufacturing sector, particularly around MSDs, and if we were to find that things were not up to scratch, there is the possibility of enforcement action. Then we would amplify that through an effective communications strategy. “We’re keen to amplify anything that does happen. We also know how word gets around, employers hear about inspections through their own networks, and we will do what we can to draw attention to it.” Future years would bring a different focus, he said. “In three years’ time, it might be we do more field [operations] activity in the waste and recycling sector.”
The HSE has also added a fourth strand to its health campaign, on occupational health leadership. A new health leadership section has been added to the HSE’s website, asking practitioners to submit examples of “what good looks like”, for example in 30 second video clips. Brown explained that this additional focus was the result of feedback the HSE received at stakeholder events under the Helping GB Work Well campaign. “The feedback from our roadshows is that there is a desire for peer to peer learning. People ask: ‘Has anyone like me done something similar?’ As a regulator we can facilitate that kind of dialogue. The health leadership strand will say: ‘Good occupational health looks like this.’” It also encourages holistic approaches to health interventions, he explained. “We don’t want people to focus on stress while others are breathing in stone dust or diesel fumes.”
Brown also stressed that the HSE wanted to join forces with other organisations that were already campaigning on workplace health issues. “We want to see sectors step up and own a problem, in the way the Health in Construction Leadership Group has, or the Chemical Industries Association, which runs its own health leadership awards. We would like that to be seen at every level. “We very much want to partner up, there has been very good work done by others, and we don’t want to set up as a confusing alternative. We want to link up with other players.”