HSE calls on smaller firms to reduce fatal accidents

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is planning to bolster its PR as it bids to reduce the number of health-and-safety blunders occurring in Britain’s workplaces.

The HSE – the body that, alongside the Health and Safety Commission, regulates health and safety in the workplace – plans to better target groups such as SMEs as part of a revamped PR strategy. The programme will be implemented as soon as it recruits its first director of communications, a post for which a recruitment process is ongoing.

News of the planned PR revamp has coincided with the exit of Peter Rimmer, the HSE’s long-serving director of information and advisory services – the body’s top PR role until the creation of the comms director post – who quit last month.

Rimmer, who has held the HSE’s top PR role for more than a decade, was unavailable for comment as PRWeek went to press. However, he is continuing to work for the HSE on comms project work until the end of the year, when it is understood he plans to retire.

An HSE spokeswoman said the organisation had undertaken a two-year comms review that had flagged a need to move from ‘tactical’ to ‘strategic’ communications.

She said: ‘We need to find new ways of intervening – not just through [workplace] inspections but by targeting particular groups, such as small firms.’

She added that the number of accidents and deaths at work had levelled off in the past five to ten years, and the Executive’s PR activity would be stepped up in a bid to start reducing the numbers.

Heather Bolton is currently filling Rimmer’s former position, which is expected to be reviewed by the incoming comms boss.

The HSE has nearly 140 staff within its information and advisory services directorate, including 13 full-time press officers and 32 publications staff.

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