The Health and Safety Commission (HSC) is responsible for health and safety regulation in Great Britain. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and local government are the enforcing authorities who work in support of the Commission. HSE's job is to help the Health and Safety Commission ensure that risks to people's health and safety from work activities are properly controlled.
ENCOURAGING INTERACTION AND INVOLVEMENT
HSE's Communications Strategy recognises the important role online services can play in improving health and safety. Its website and intranet must do more than provide access to information. The sites must encourage people to interact, get involved and help and influence others.
"Externally our biggest challenge is to cover a diverse set of industry sectors and stakeholders including individual workers, health and safety professionals, trade unions, companies and trade bodies", says Roger Hamilton of HSE's online team.
"Some information is targeted at certain sectors, whilst other campaigns are crossindustry. We need to ensure that the information we deliver is always targeted and relevant."
"Internally we wanted a system to support our existing intranet and allow our 3000+ staff to collaborate and work together across our 30 sites that are distributed around the UK. Online communities appeared to be a reliable, useful, usable and inexpensive way of engaging people inside and outside HSE ? and capable of interfacing with other web-based systems now and in the future."
"This forward-looking strategy has proved successful, with the later introduction of online consultations and email bulletin systems from INOVEM, which share the same user information."
WHY DID HSE CHOOSE INOVEM?
"A tendering process selected INOVEM based on criteria such as functionality, ease of use, cost, scalability and the vendor's track record", says Roger.
HOW THE HSE IS USING INOVEM
A few examples of internal and external groups HSE have launched include:
- Management standards for tackling work-related stress - a large scale public online consultation inviting views on good management practice and systems that fed into an ongoing open community for discussing stress management techniques.
- The Risk Debate Forum ? a public debate on topics related to risk management in health and safety. Participants expressed views on the balance between excessive risk aversion and the need to still protect people.
- Work at Height Solutions - an online database of good practice advice for people planning a task that involves work at height. This project was developed as a partnership between HSE and the Access Industry Forum (AIF).
- e-Bulletin service ? a range of regular email newsletters promoting content on the HSE website. The general news bulletin gained over 5000 subscribers inside its first month.
RESULTS ACHIEVED TO DATE
The HSE system has attracted 16,000 members of external communities, over 2,000 staff members of internal communities, and nearly 80,000 subscribers to e-bulletins. Feedback from members and group managers is very positive, with many reporting that their online groups are now established as an integral part of their working practices.
"This pace of development has relied strongly on active managers of communities and a committed support team. The progress has not been without obstacles; in particular, the implementation of online consultations has shown that HSE needs to develop a more co-ordinated approach to online consultation", says Roger Hamilton.
"HSE has a strong web presence and a forward looking communications strategy that positions the web as the primary mechanism for communicating with the world."
We will look to develop the existing network of communities and online consultation, while exploring other ways of using the system to involve greater numbers of people.
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