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Asbestos: Publicity

Work and Pensions written question – answered on 9th February 2011.

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Photo of Natascha Engel Natascha Engel Chair, Backbench Business Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions by what mechanism the Health and Safety Executive monitored the effectiveness of the first two phases of its Hidden Killer campaign; and what the findings were.

Photo of Chris Grayling Chris Grayling The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions

The Health and Safety Executive advises Government on matters relating to worker safety and occupational illness. HSE's evidence is that asbestos is Britain's biggest industrial killer, responsible for an estimated 4,000 deaths per year. HSE's 'Asbestos: Hidden Killer' campaign was aimed at tradespeople such as plumbers, electricians and joiners who are the group currently at highest risk from exposure to potentially fatal asbestos fibres.

Evidence has been used to inform the Hidden Killer project from the start with independent researchers monitoring the effectiveness of all phases of the campaign.

Full details of the evaluation on both phases are available on HSE's website at:

Continental Research evaluated the first national wave of activity (February 2009); their results demonstrated the campaign achieved excellent recognition with 80% of the target audience aware of publicity surrounding asbestos and 72% aware of specific elements of the press or radio adverts. Crucially 89% of the target audience agreed that the adverts were "aimed at someone like me" and over half of those who saw or heard the advertising claim to have taken more safety precautions when working with asbestos.

The second wave of national activity was evaluated by BMG Research and demonstrates further significant uplifts in already high levels of awareness surrounding the risk of asbestos (to 85%). The attitudinal response remained positive with significant uplifts in the proportion agreeing it is "aimed at someone like me" (to 93%) and that if "got me thinking about may exposure at work" (90%). Outcomes include that nine in 10 of those who recognise an element of the campaign report having taken, or planning to take, some action as a result.

Traffic to HSE's website has been monitored with a 600% increase on page requests compared to a similar period the year before.

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