Behaviour-change specialist takes on top comms role at Health and Safety Executive

The Health and Safety Executive has appointed behaviour-change expert Lester Posner as its head of comms, PRWeek has learned.

The Health and Safety Executive has appointed behaviour change expert Lester Posner as its permanent head of comms
The Health and Safety Executive has appointed behaviour change expert Lester Posner as its permanent head of comms

Posner has been a comms professional in the public sector for 16 years, beginning at the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister in 2001 during the New Labour years as a press officer and rising to the post of senior press officer by the time he left in 2004.

From there, Posner moved to the Department of Communities and Local Government, where he spent eight years as a senior press officer and then chief press officer.

His next role, at the Department for Work and Pensions as deputy head of ‘Universal Credit’ comms and later head of new state pension comms, saw Posner lead on behaviour change campaigns around welfare reform and develop award-winning campaigns to support changes to the pension system.

Posner, who has an MSc in social and public communication from the Department of Social Psychology at the London School of Economics, also helped establish DWP’s behavioural science team and co-authored the Government Communications Service’s ‘Guide to Behaviour Change and Communications’.

The behavioural science team brought together psychologists, researchers and behavioural scientists and applied their thinking to policy, comms and operational challenges.

He began his career as a journalist for the Bucks Free Press in the late 1990s, rising to deputy news editor.

Posner, who has held the head of comms role - the most senior comms role at HSE - on an interim basis for a year, was appointed to the permanent position in January.

He leads a multi-disciplinary comms team with responsibility for external and internal comms, campaigns and media engagement activity.

HSE’s comms team received a Public Service Excellence Award last year for work on its ‘Help GB Work Well’ campaign, which encouraged people working in the field of health and safety to take positive action.

In the autumn, HSE launched its ‘Go Home Healthy’ campaign, which sought to influence employer attitudes towards ill health.

Commenting on his appointment, Posner told PRWeek: "I'm delighted to be permanently appointed to the role and to lead a highly talented communications team at HSE. Our campaigns and engagement activity plays a key role in HSE's regulatory approach to prevent work-related death, injury and ill health. Over the next 12 months, we'll be focusing our insight-led targeted campaigns on influencing attitudes and behaviours, to help improve health and safety outcomes."

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