Gold Award for ‘Beware Asbestos’ campaign

A gold award for innovation has been awarded to the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) asbestos safety campaign at the recent Institute of Promotional Marketing (IPM) awards ceremony. The award was collected by the HSE and the creative communications agency 23Red, who worked together on this project, to design safety kits – the full title of the award was ‘best use of innovation in a B2B campaign using incentive or promotional products’.

Aimed at behaviour change in the workplace

Asbestos awareness in the workplace is a vital tool in keeping people safe and this campaign was designed specifically to change behaviour in anyone tempted to take shortcuts in dealing with asbestos found during renovations or demolition. Although asbestos has not been used in construction for over fifteen years, it does still crop up and the distribution of 200,000 asbestos safety kits as part of this campaign will make a huge difference. The kits included a ‘quick guide’ card giving advice and information as well as a free set of ‘Type 5’ overalls, to kick-start the safety awareness of a business. A Phase Two Awareness campaign is currently being developed.

Training is at the heart of health and safety

The awarding committee, in summing up the reasons for giving the prize to the HSE and 23Red, said, ‘This campaign saves lives!’ Raising awareness can never be overemphasised but at the heart of any good health and safety package in businesses whose employees may come into contact with asbestos, there must be a robust training programme. A quick guide is a helpful tool, but can only skim the surface. There are various asbestos awareness courses available, designed by the UKATA (UK Asbestos Training Association) and cover all aspects of asbestos including the important issue of how very dangerous it is; amazingly, many people still don’t realise that even one fibre of asbestos inhaled can cause a whole raft of very serious illness, sometimes many years down the line and ranging from debilitating chest problems to the always fatal mesothelioma.

Better safe than sorry – the only way to cope with the asbestos threat

Clearly, it isn’t possible to work productively while living in fear of possible asbestos, but by giving the workforce the knowledge to recognize and deal with asbestos in the course of their jobs, an employer will ensure both their safety and the progress of the work. If asbestos is found, there are various ways to proceed and knowing which path to take is essential to keep everyone safe. Depending on the level of likelihood of finding asbestos in the workplace, the staff can be trained to identify, measure and arrange destruction of the material. All asbestos must be removed and destroyed under strict guidelines by licensed companies, but small amounts, though needing to be treated with respect, can be dealt with by correctly trained staff. Top up courses are also available widely and it is the duty of every employer to make sure that everyone is up to date.

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