We are currently looking to recruit another Research Assistant to work on this IOSH (Institution of Occupational Safety and Health)-funded research project investigating the public legitimacy of health and safety regulation since 1960. This is a one-year, full-time post (commencing January 2014) involving researching a range of primary and secondary sources relating to occupational safety and health in post-1960 Britain, with a focus on changing notions of legitimacy, particularly in relation to the role of the state. This should be a really interesting and exciting project to be involved with, so if this appeals to you, please do get in touch!
The post will be based in the School of Social, Historical and Literary Studies at the University of Portsmouth, working alongside Dr Mike Esbester and Professor Paul Almond of the University of Reading.Further details are available at http://www.jobs.ac.uk/job/AHQ939/research-assistant-in-history/ and at https://port.engageats.co.uk/Login.aspx?enc=8mQu39IePHh228vAX7gMRoLmnqS1YDZYtHafv1sn46I=
Paul Almond appeared on BBC WM (West Midlands) yesterday to talk about “health and safety gone mad” and a recent “case” highlighted in the Daily Mail newspaper involving a War veteran who had been banned from acting as a flag-bearer at a Remembrance Day event due to ‘health and safety’ (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2509070/Hitler-didnt-stop-health-safety-says-Navy-hero.html). The link to the radio show is here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01ksw4r (at 33.20). Paul was happy to explain that there was nothing in the law to stop the gentleman involved acting as a volunteer, and that he was probably the victim of a ‘can’t-do’ attitude on the part of insurers and organisers.
Issues around misperception are a central part of what our project aims to understand. HSE has long worked to address this kind of story via its myth-busting website, review panels, and media activity, but new examples do endure. Why is it that there is such an appetite for these stories? What understandings do they seem to confirm, and why is health and safety so vulnerable to these attacks? Is it simply the media having fun, or is a political agenda being advanced? What wider views of the legitimacy of health and safety do they seem to confirm?
Finally, the media’s role is not just limited to poking fun at ‘jobsworths’; sometimes the shoe is on the other foot! Private Eye ran a good story last week about the Daily Express, an organ that is very fond of an anti-health and safety story or two, banning kettles in their offices because of, you’ve guessed it, ‘health and safety‘!
Both of the two researchers involved in the CLHSR project are in action in the next month or so, giving public lectures at their respective institutions on the issue of health and safety as communciated to, and understood by, workers and the public.
On Wednesday 6th November, Mike Esbester will deliver a lecture entitled ‘Do it the Safety Way! 100 Years of Accident Prevention’ at the University of Portsmouth (6-7pm, Portland Building, Portland Street, Portsmouth PO1 3AH), exploring the phenomenon of safety education: he will show how and why safety education started 100 years ago, and will decode the messages hidden in safety education, examining what they say about Britain over the last 100 years. See http://www.port.ac.uk/aboutus/newsandevents/events/title,180226,en.html for details.
And on Wednesday 4th December, Paul Almond will deliver a lecture entitled ‘Health and Safety regulation: ‘Red tape’ or ‘thin blue line” at the University of Reading (8-9pm, Palmer Building, Whiteknights campus, Reading RG6 6AH), exploring why health and safety regulation has never had a higher or more unfavourable public profile than it does now; he will contrast these unfavourable views with a wider desire for protection and accountability and ask how these two versions of safety regulation can coexist. See http://www.reading.ac.uk/news-and-events/Events/Event531704.aspx for details.
We hope to see you at one of these events!