The HSE took to Twitter on Thursday 5th June 2014 in a rather modern attempt to bust some health and safety myths. The Health and Safety Executive’s Small Business Advisor, Barbara Hockley, amongst other HSE inspectors were available for an hour-long live Twitter chat to answer questions on health and safety from small business owners using the hashtag #askHSE. The HSE’s aim for this recent Twitter conquest was to answer questions and correct any common misconceptions that businesses may have with regards to the health and safety rules and regulations that apply to them. Unfortunately, it has to be said that the launch was a little bit of a disaster – the conversation only played host to a handful of tweets, largely due to technical problems.
Technical… and Spelling Issues
The live-chat didn’t start off too well and kicked off later than planned. HSE tweeted ‘Please bare with us we are just experiencing a technical issue’ apologising for the delay. HSE managed to make a slight spelling error which unfortunately for them was picked up by a few tickled Twitter users. A common misconception in the English language, the word ‘bear’ had been spelled ‘bare. HSE essentially invited their Twitter followers to undress with them, and unfortunately this mistake was made twice, and picked up on by users both times.
Spelling and technical issues aside, HSE reaching out to the public on a platform such as Twitter is an indication of the government’s determination to keep up to date with technology, and to help small to medium sized businesses keep on their feet when it comes to health and safety regulations.
Bit of a sorry turn-out
Unfortunately it was a bit quiet. There were only around 6 questions asked, which were all answered quickly by HSE, but it seems no one wanted to go to this party. This is truly a shame as this was a great opportunity for SMEs to get questions answered without having to trawl the internet or call HSE themselves. I can’t help but feel that if there were to be more exposure of these HSE ‘live-chats’, combined with conducting them at a time outside of traditional working hours, there would be a far better turn out.
Regardless of the technical issues and spelling mistakes HSE plays a vital part in any business, and it is important that the HSE’s rules and regulations are enforced to avoid any kind of harm coming to persons working for an SME. Not only will enforcing these rules avoid harm, but they also protect you if an employee or customer does encounter harm. If all the correct precautionary measures were put into place, such as warning signs, the right equipment and training, you have a very good chance against any claims that are made against you and your business.
Round Two for #askHSE
Despite HSE’s first ever live-chat on Twitter turning out to be a bit of a flop, their last tweet said ‘Thanks for your questions today, apologies for the technical issues and delayed start. We hope to hold more #askHSE sessions in the future.’ This means if you missed out on this session then there will hopefully be more #askHSE discussions in the future. Remember, this is the perfect opportunity to discover the answers to those little health and safety regulations questions you may have. If you are a Managing Director of a SME and you are on Twitter, start following @H_S_E and watch out for the next #askHSE session so you too can de-bust some health and safety myths.
Julie Henderson is a representative for Health and Safety Signs which offers an extensive range of health and safety signs for businesses across the UK.