In 2000 HSE set up a Risk Education programme of work to identify and influence the degree to which risk management techniques are taught in schools and other educational establishments, including universities where undergraduate courses lead to entry into safety critical professions such as engineering and design.
The programme consisted of four projects:
- Raising risk awareness at every level...
- Raising risk awareness levels among...
- Providing risk education support materials...
- Information gathering…
The programme of activity is now finished apart from some pilot projects that are still developing. Findings from these four projects are now being reviewed in the context of the wider Sensible Risk Debate.
Research has revealed that:
- Pupils are being instructed about particular risks and hazards in particular contexts, but not about risk itself, or the principles of risk management which is fundamental to good health and safety practice
- There are no firm grounds for assuming that education about risks in one context (eg road safety), will lead to the application of the same principles that can be applied and used to manage different risks (eg substance abuse)
- Teaching staff have difficulty with terms like 'risk education' and 'risk concepts' and there is currently no mechanism for HSE to influence teacher training or trade union agendas
- Discussions with teachers on risk and health and safety reveal that they themselves feel vulnerable and often inhibited, fearing personal liability and litigation
- Young people are at their most vulnerable when entering the workspace for the first time.
More detailed findings can be found in six research reports produced under the Risk Education Programme.
HSE has published guidance on work experience and continues to take up opportunities to engage with stakeholders on this, and to raise awareness of health and safety issues in education more generally.