The contemporary public attitudes component of the project, co-ordinated by the University of Reading, is now well underway, with Paul Almond and Carmen D’Cruz having run focus groups across the country over the past month. The last of the eight focus groups (each lasting ninety minutes and with roughly eight participants) was carried out just over a week ago week in Bath, with the others being held in Leeds, Manchester, London, Reading, Windsor, Southampton, and Bristol.
We largely focused on the following:
- Media coverage about occupational health and safety (OHS), looking into participants’ awareness of and reaction to ‘regulatory myths’ and ‘health and safety gone mad’ cases;
- Personal experiences, examining participants’ knowledge of and opinions about the legal/regulatory framework of OHS, their experiences of OHS in the workplace and elsewhere, and their perceptions of change in this area over time;
- Trust and values, assessing how far participants support/ identify with the concept of health and safety regulation and the values underpinning it, as well as the factors influencing this support; and
- Key concerns, asking about participants’ reservations and concerns regarding this area of the law (e.g. independence, public interest) and the things they would like changed.
Each focus group shed new light on key issues and we gathered crucial information about the motivations, processes, and understandings that inform and shape public attitudes, as well as their substantive form and direction. Following transcription, we are excited to begin an in-depth analysis of our findings. Stay tuned for more!