Public Affairs: HSE appoints AS Biss to public affairs account

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has appointed AS Biss & Co to its newly created public affairs account as it aims to boost awareness of workplace risk and communicate its strategy with MPs and stakeholders.

The move follows the appointment last November of The Audit Commission's former PR chief Colin Douglas to the new post of director of communications at the government body.

'This appointment is about developing a more strategic approach to our dealings with MPs,' said an HSE spokeswoman. 'We have not got our messages across effectively before to ensure a sensible health and safety culture.'

AS Biss has landed an initial six-month contract after a competitive pitch overseen by Douglas, who oversees the 14-strong press office.

A key part of the brief is to ensure effective communication of the organisation's strategy for workplace health and safety in Great Britain in 2010 and beyond. It sets out a vision of 'health and safety as a cornerstone of a civilised society... to achieve a record that leads the world'.

The task is also likely to involve defending the reputation of the health and safety system. For example, public safety group the Centre for Corporate Accountability last month accused HSE of only automatically investigating accidents where there are sufficient indications of legislation breaches. The Health & Safety Act was introduced in 1974.

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