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Legal Minds

8 April 2016 / by / in , ,

HSE’s New Strategy

HSE recently launched its new five year strategy entitled “Helping Great Britain Work Well”. This document replaces its previous 2009 strategy “Be Part of the Solution”. It can be downloaded at:

Dame Judith Hackitt DBE, who stepped down as Chair of HSE at the end of March, says in her introduction that too much bureaucracy has built up around health and safety. She points out that the principles of the UK’s approach to health and safety are sound and have stood the test of time ie those who create risks have a responsibility to manage those risks and the action required to manage those risks should be proportionate.

The Strategy’s executive summary states:

“HSE will continue to be a prime mover, whether through ongoing regulatory reform, working in partnership with stakeholders, carrying out inspections, assessing safety cases and reports, or where necessary taking enforcement action.”

The six strategic themes are as follows:

– Promoting broader ownership of health and safety in Great Britain;

– Highlighting and tackling the costs of work-related ill health;

– Simplifying risk management and helping business to grow;

– Giving SMEs simple advice so that they know what they have to do;

– Anticipating and tackling new health and safety challenges; and

– Promoting the benefits of Great Britain’s world-class health and safety system.

Dutyholders will be interested to read that HSE will be “challenging so-called ‘experts’ who overprescribe and overinterpret requirements”. Sections of the business world may feel this criticism equally applies to some inspectors when serving enforcement notices or issuing notifications of contravention under HSE’s Fee for Intervention regime. Inspectors can find themselves regulating industries or processes of which they have little or no knowledge or understanding. Their approach can be heavily influenced by hindsight if involvement follows a fatal incident or one in which a worker has been seriously injured.

On 4 April Dame Judith Hackitt took over from Martin Temple CBE as Chair of EEF, the body which represents manufacturing. In 2013 the Department of Work and Pensions appointed Mr Temple to undertake the Triennial Review of HSE. In his subsequent report published on 9 January 2014 he wrote:

“As I have already discussed, health and safety legislation is goal setting and risk based. This means that the discussion that takes place between regulator and the regulated about what is reasonably practicable is vital.”

It must be hoped that Dame Judith Hackitt in her new role will continue to support this view.


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