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Survey points to lower 'risk intelligence', says UK IOSH health and safety leader

June 2010

The great British public looks to have lost its way when it comes to risk savviness. That's a claim made by a leading voice from the health and safety profession.

John Holden, president of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), the Chartered body for health and safety professionals, used a recent House of Lords lunch event to respond to a new survey by highlighting what he calls a 'Jekyll and Hyde' factor at work when it comes to how the British view health and safety.

The results from a new IOSH commissioned "YouGov" survey - 'Your job - your life' - was unveiled two years after an identical survey first quizzed three thousand employees on what they really think about health and safety in the workplace.

The IOSH President outlined what he believes to be a growing lack of 'risk intelligence' or risk awareness amongst a public that's become disconnected from dealing with everyday risk. He said:

"On the one hand most people fully appreciate the value of health and safety and are thankful that it's there to keep us safe and in good health."

"But then there's the other perceived side of health and safety, the mythical monster created by some sections of our media that tells us it's all about jobsworths making daft decisions and tying us all up in red tape,".

He drew guests' particular attention to two key findings from the survey:

Yet most people were shown to view the principle of health and safety very positively:

"While it's heartening to see from the survey that most people continue to be generally very positive about health and safety in the workplace, it's nonetheless worrying that people's perceptions appear to contradict their basic instincts," says John.

"Certainly the media myths store up problems for us all, not just those working in the sector, because they create the danger of people believing some of the nonsense written and talked about health and safety, then turning their backs on the everyday need to protect against the very real risks that do exist in the workplace."

'Your job - your life' survey showed:

IOSH is the Chartered body for health and safety professionals. With more than 37,000 members in 85 countries, it is the world's biggest professional health and safety organisation. IOSH sets standards, and support, develop and connect our members with resources, guidance, events and training. They are the voice of the profession, and campaign on issues that affect millions of working people.

IOSH was founded in 1945 and is a registered charity with international NGO status.

Contact IOSH