Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Study to shed light on people's attitude toward health and safety

IOSH funds research into public's attitude toward health and safety regulations

Health and safety measures often include
personal protective equipment and air
cleaners, as shown above.
A study led by the University of Reading in partnership with the University of Portsmouth and funded by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) will examine how the social standing and perceived value of health and safety regulation has changed over the last 50 years.

Researchers will interview key stakeholders from health and safety practice, including former regulators, politicians, policymakers, workers and trade union safety representatives, employers and managers, and others who have played an active role in health and safety law during the period.

Health and safety regulations affect everyone, and they have become an important area of the law, according to the project's principal investigator Prof. Paul Almond of the University of Reading.

He mentioned the recent Deepwater Horizon BP disaster in 2010 and events such as the Piper Alpha oil rig fire that brought the need of protective laws to the forefront of people's minds. The laws are designed to protect the public from harmful side effects of work.

The nature of the laws has changed from very specific and prescriptive complex laws to a broader law also covering the office-based service-sector economy.

Based on facts and figures, these laws have become a success story, with rates of death, injury  and illness falling significantly, but there seems to be a negative stigma attached to the concept of health and safety.

The researchers hope to uncover the reasons why the public is not embracing health and safety regulations, and what kind of actions may cause this situation to change.

Workplaces have changed over time, and the nature of the hazard is very different than what it was in the 1960s and 1970s, says Jane White,  IOSH Research and Information Services manager.

"Now we face a juxtaposition between the public perception of red tape and the reality of a legal framework that is fit for purpose."

The project is scheduled to last two years.

This article has been edited for length. Source: Occupational Health & Safety Online

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