Select Committee on Work and Pensions Written Evidence


Supplementary memorandum submitted by Prospect

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

  1.  Increasing public and political expectations that the HSE should influence occupational health and safety so injury and illness rates fall conflict with continued pressure to reduce public spending. We fear that further reductions in the HSE's budget will damage the effectiveness of the HSE and result in an increased burden on the taxpayer through higher accident rates.

  2.  In each of the four areas outlined by the Committee, our overall assessment is as follows:

    —    Legislative background: The current legislative background is robust as it is built upon a tradition of consensus and providing a proportionate response to health and safety risks. However, the effectiveness of the legislative background relies upon adequate funding and the professional of HSE staff.

    —    Resources: The current squeeze on HSE funding, which has almost halved the proportion of GDP spent on the HSE since 1992, ensures that the HSE simply does not have sufficient funds to meet its obligations as a health and safety regulator. A substantial increase in funding, no less than 20% and a further 1,000 staff, is required to meet public and political expectations. HSE funding should also have sufficient flexibility to allow the organisation to respond to unexpected major safety incidents, such as Buncefield, and to respond to changes in public priorities, such as concern over construction fatalities.

    —    Inspection, enforcement and prosecutions: The regular inspection of employers by skilled, experienced inspectors with enforcement powers remains the most effective mechanism for improving occupational safety so long as those inspectors have sufficient specialist, policy and scientific support. Penalties for criminal breaches of health and safety legislation are relatively low and give a misleading signal that society does not take death, injury and disease at work as seriously as other forms of business malpractice.

    —    Hazardous occupations, migrant workers and occupational health: Additional resources are needed to tackle the problems in construction, agriculture, chemicals and off-shore oil production by improving the access of inspectors to sites. The lack of resources for construction and agriculture places many migrant workers at increased risk of industrial injury. The decline in occupational health provision by the HSE is baffling given the increased impact of ill-health at work and significant additional investment in the HSE's occupational health service would have considerable benefit to employers, workers and the economy.

  3.  In addition, we believe that the current debate over regulation should focus on what HSE interventions deliver most benefit to employees, employers and society as a whole. Whilst the principles of a proportionate approach and a tripartite partnership between the HSE, employers and unions are well-established, we still believe that these values underpin an effective system of occupational health and safety and help create an intelligent approach to regulation that is ignored by the often sterile debate between light and heavy forms of regulation. In our experience, good and efficient employers see the creation of a safe workplace with a strong commitment to health and safety as being more appropriate than mere compliance with legislation.

PROSPECT

  4.  Prospect represents over 100,000 professional, technical, scientific and managerial staff across the economy but concentrated in the civil service, energy utilities and the nuclear sector. We are the largest union in the HSE representing over 1,700 inspectors, policy advisers, scientists and managers. With our experience of representing other groups of staff in hazardous industries, we believe that we understand the views of both regulators and professional staff subject to regulation.

Section A: Legislative background

  5.  Our experience of applying and enforcing legislation based on a test of reasonable goal-setting is that such legislation is by definition proportionate. However, there is a danger of continued over-implementation by dutyholders due to fear of HSE and civil litigation. On occasions independent consultants have taken advantage of this lack of understanding to sell health and safety management "solutions" to small businesses that are not always appropriate rather than focusing on what is a proportionate response applicable to a particular business.

  6.  This potentially places a substantial cost on business: however we do not believe that diluting legislation is a suitable response since this merely transfers the cost from employers to individual employees and to society as a whole. Moreover the emotional trauma caused by industrial accidents and disease is such that it is reasonable to err on the side of prevention.

  7.  The effectiveness of legislation often is as reliant upon the mechanism for implementation as the drafting of legislation. In the case of occupational health and safety, for legislation to be effective, we believe that high-quality inspection and advice from HSE inspectors and other staff such as policy advisers and scientists is vital to ensure that employers and their staff respond appropriately to both the constraints placed by legislation and to create an effective corporate health and safety culture that is appropriate to the specific business. The combined professional judgment of HSE staff, managers with responsibility for health and safety and employees is key to ensuring that the best value is obtained from the current legislative framework. Whilst there is continued scepticism about the value of health and safety rules, mainly due to often well-intentioned but futile over-reaction to legislation, there is simply no evidence to suggest that organisations which skimp on health and safety are more efficient and profitable than their peers: indeed the bulk of evidence points to a positive correlation between safety standards and profitability.

  8.   The regulatory burden on business: Overall the health and safety regulatory burden on business is proportionate. The majority of generally applicable health and safety related regulation in place in the UK is derived from European directives. In translating these directives into domestic legislation the UK has opted for goal setting rather than prescriptive legislation. The regulations are generally couched in terms of: what is suitable and sufficient; what is appropriate; and what is adequate. The clearest example is the regulation that most directly requires administration of health and safety statutory duties, ie regulation 5 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (MHSW 1999).[55]

  9.  The regulation encourages a proportionate approach from the regulator. We feel that this reflects the spirit of the 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act where duties are defined as what is reasonably practicable or practicable.

  10.   EU legislation: We do not believe that EU legislation is gold-plated as examined by Lord Donaldson in 2006 and we broadly agree with the conclusions of the 2006 Donaldson Report. However, it is important that the HSE can respond to concerns from all stakeholders regarding prospective European legislation that is commonly feared to impose unnecessary duties. Therefore the HSE needs to develop expertise and relationships that enable the UK to best shape European health and safety legislation. This requires the HSE to retain sufficient skilled and experienced inspectors, scientists and policy experts. Current funding policy seems designed to prevent this and to increase the costs on business by not responding fully to proposed EU legislation.

  11.   Business Guidance: Effective safety regulation is dependant on two factors:

    —    Dutyholders' acceptance that they require advice and guidance; and

    —    The authority, accuracy and availability of that advice and guidance.

  12.  Currently the HSC/E produces a wide range of authoritative, internationally respected guidance. These range from general Approved Codes of Practice, which by their nature and legal status are not industry or situation specific through general guidance to some highly specific guidance and information. Employers and unions place a high value on this advice as the HSE has traditionally consulted widely on guidance and employed recognised experts with sufficient credibility with industry. We are concerned that this position is compromised by funding constraints as the HSE's wide professional credibility across occupational health and safety is a major contributor to safety at work. We emphatically reject Judith Hackett's (Chair of the HSC) suggestion to the Committee on 28 November that "HSE can not, clearly, be expert in all of the areas that we regulate": the HSE should retain sufficient skilled policy and scientific staff to provide expert advice and guidance across the full range of occupational health and safety.

  13.  Our experience of practical enforcement and advice suggests that employers and unions place a high value on the advisory role of Inspectors with access to expert specialist inspectors, policy and scientific advice. This key interface with the HSE is extremely valuable and effective: employers place a very high value on the ability of inspectors to offer practical guidance that simplifies much of the detailed printed advice available.

  14.   Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act (2007): The Act does not impose any new duties upon employers but we believe that it will encourage improvements amongst better performers due to increased attention of finance directors, insurers and legal advisers. For the Act to spur improvements in safety management amongst mediocre and poor performers, expert advice and robust enforcement will continue to be necessary so Directors are aware of their duties under the Act. Further cuts in HSE funding will remove this ability to implement the Act despite the clear wish of Parliament for Directors to be held more accountable. Prospect's concern is that a few high-profile offenders will be targeted and thereafter the legislation will only be used sporadically

  15.   Voluntary guidance for Directors: We do not believe that it would be desirable to produce further general guidance for Directors when there is a lack of consensus over change except to reinforce the role of employee safety representatives: these reps are a key element of any successful safety culture and their greater involvement in safety issues is likely to benefit society by improving safety performance.

  16.  However, the best form of advice for Directors remains the informal enforcement undertaken by inspectors who have developed the professional credibility and workplace relationships to provide useful specific advice that is proportionate. The success of this approach to enforcement is built on two major principles: firstly, the maintenance of a highly skilled inspectorate with sufficient policy and scientific support to retain professional credibility: and secondly the retention of the power of formal enforcement by the HSE staff providing the advice. Prospect's experience confirms that physical inspection by inspectors with a remit and professional expertise to conduct a full inspection is a vital mechanism for ensuring that Directors and mangers get the guidance they require to manage health and safety. Funding cuts would reduce this support available to employers and their staff.

  17.   Local Authority Planning: Given that in practice, the HSE is consulted over land use where there are significant safety issues, the only significant changes required are: a commitment to consult the HSE over societal risks where a single incident could injury a large number of people; a firm commitment to continue to consult the HSE over nuclear installations and continued funding for the HSE to undertake this valuable role that does not often have an immediate impact on injury and illness rates.

Section B: Resources

  18.  The current level of HSE resources is not sufficient to meet the expectations held by the public and on occasions by employers, unions and politicians. In the absence of a full public debate over the appropriate level of occupational health and safety advice and enforcement, the HSE remains condemned to reductions in funding to meet overall spending limits which in the three years of the next Comprehensive Spending Review from March 2008 establish a 16.8% reduction in funding of the HSE's parent department, DWP. This reduction would hamper the HSE to the extent that its and the Government's credibility in maintaining, let alone improving, health and safety standards would be lost.

  19.  Despite media myth and hype about an intrusive HSE, its cost needs to put in context: there are fewer inspectors employed in Great Britain than there are traffic wardens in Greater London.[56] The HSE's budget is lower than that of a medium sized police force such as Avon and Somerset.

  20.  Given the substantial financial and emotional costs of occupational accidents and disease, we believe that Government should abandon some of its banal deregulatory rhetoric in favour of assessing the effectiveness of the HSE's work and the benefits of greater investment in prevention to reduce those substantial costs. There is clear evidence that shows that the prevention of unsafe, and often criminal, acts at work has a far greater financial benefit to society than investment in mitigating the effects. Evidence suggest that the total cost of poor occupational health and safety is over £20 billion each year! Whilst the HSE is not the only mechanism for addressing this negligence, we believe that there is significant gearing with a small investment in greater inspection, advice and enforcement delivering a far more substantial reduction in the costs of accident and disease.

  21.  We believe that the HSE's funding can be assessed in two ways: the proportion of GDP devoted to health and safety; and meeting public expectations.

  22.  Maintaining the proportion of GDP spent on the HSE would ensure that the cost of the service did not grow faster than the capacity of the economy to support it. In 1987, the HSE employed 3,500 staff and spent 0.024% of UK GDP: by 1992 this had increased to 4,500 staff and 0.033% of GDP. By 2007 the HSE had reduced to fewer than 3,300 staff spending 0.017% if GDP with further cuts anticipated up to 2011. The effectiveness of the HSE has mirrored the changes in funding with the greatest benefits occurring as the staff and budgets increased and the plateauing of accident rates, with increases in some key sectors such as construction, occurring as the investment was run down. Maintaining the proportion of GDP spent on the HSE would imply at least a return to the 1987 level of 0.024% spend and an increase in staff numbers to 4,500.

  23.  Evidence does not suggest that funding should have been reduced as the need for the HSE disappeared. Whilst the type of work conducted by the HSE has changed as the economy has evolved, this has not reduced the need for professional expert advice and enforcement. Indeed some of the current objectives such as occupational health and the management of attendance require even greater input from suitably skilled and experienced inspectors.

  24.  Alternatively, we could examine the expectations upon the HSE through the questions set by the Committee that forms the rest of Section B.

  25.  The HSE's objectives as the health and safety regulator and meeting its PSA targets: The HSE clearly is under-resourced and cannot meet its internal 60-40 split between preventative and reactive inspection due to a lack of funds. The inability to achieve internal targets for preventative work threatens the HSE's overall ability to reduce accident and injury rates as required by the PSA targets. As this split is deemed necessary to meet public expectations over occupational health and safety, we believe that HSE funding should increase to ensure that 60% of inspection could be preventative.

  26.  More disturbingly, even though the HSE has sacrificed some preventative work to respond to incidents, the HSE is increasingly unable to meet the HSC's criteria for accident investigation. As a tripartite organisation the HSC acts on the basis of consensus so in 2004 less stringent criteria for investigation, that for example exclude amputations of fingertips above the first knuckle, were introduced with the acceptance of unions, employers and Government. Since 2004, the number of serious accidents that the HSE is simply unable to investigate has almost increased by two-thirds from 188 in 2004-05 to 307 cases in 2006-07. This high level of non-investigated accidents is due to a lack of resources.

  27.  The HSE is also unable to meet occupational health targets due to a lack of sufficient skilled staff. The bizarre run-down of the HSE's occupational health capacity over 15 years when improving occupational health has become a more important public priority is described in more detail in Section D.

  28.   Budget efficiency: Due to the highly uncertain nature of future public funding it is almost impossible for the HSE to manage its budgets efficiently. At a time when the HSE has improved financial performance by shedding staff, the organisation has generated a surplus in the current financial year presumably because the HSE fears further substantial funding cuts from 2008.

  29.  Like any organisation in the public or private sector, the HSE continues to seek greater efficiency. Our fear is that some of the current initiatives adopted by the HSE simply reduce cost rather than improve efficiency at a time when the demands upon the HSE are increasing. We also believe that the PFI arrangements for the Bootle headquarters and the Health and Safety Laboratory at Buxton are financially inefficient.

  30.  The current How and Where We Work programme appears to contemplate cost savings through the accelerated shift of policy staff out of London, the introduction of hot-desking in regional offices, a reduction in the number of support staff and a review of the regional office structure. We are concerned that the residual London policy presence will be inadequate and will increase travel costs as policy staff have to travel from other locations to London for meetings.

  31.  As a national organisation, the HSE is required to provide a robust service across Great Britain so we are opposed to any further diminution of the HSE's regional office structure since this will simply lead to increased travel, which reduces the time that inspectors and other specialists spend on productive work. In addition we are sceptical about the benefits of hot-desking that appear to sacrifice productivity to reduce the costs of running the HSE's estate in response to a decline in Government funding. We fear that the off-site archiving of records and a reduction in the informal interactions between inspectors reduce the effectiveness of the HSE.

  32.  Whilst we recognise that the HSE wishes to minimise the impact of recent funding cuts on front-line staff, this is not achieved by simply reducing the number of support staffing the absence of more efficient ways of providing that support. The HSE employs policy and support staff to enable inspectors to make more efficient use of their time: for example asking inspectors to perform basic administration tasks is a method to make administration less efficient rather than to increase productivity.

  33.   Additional investment: The HSE retains public confidence by addressing the full range of occupational health and safety issues. Given the impact of injury and disease, the emphasis should be on increasing preventative work and developing expertise to deal with new priorities. Given the decline in the HSE's occupational health capacity, then significant further investment in this area is required. However, investment in preventative inspection should recognise that such work is reliant upon high-quality policy and scientific support.

  34.  The partnership principles that underlie the HSC/E suggest that the HSE should have significant autonomy to pursue issues that are given priority by stakeholders without significant political interference: in reality occupational health and safety remains a key objective of Government through the DWP. Therefore it remains in the public interest for the HSE to respond to unexpected emergencies such as the Buncefield oil explosion and the Foot and Mouth outbreak at Pirbright as well as a greater emphasis on tackling occupational safety issues such as the rise in construction fatalities. However, given current and future budgetary constraints we believe that a contingency fund should be established to enable the HSE to respond promptly to such changes driven by events outside its control and that this fund should be supplemented by additional funding when significant additional resources are required as in the case of the response to the unacceptable level of construction fatalities.

  35.  Given the level of political and public expectation over occupational health and safety, we believe that an increase in funding back to 0.024% of GDP and an additional 1,000 staff is the minimum level required to match growing expectations of performance and the increasing complexity of issues faced by the HSE.

Section C: Inspection, enforcement and prosecutions

  36.  Evidence from the HSE and elsewhere shows that enforcement remains the most effective form of intervention for reducing accident rates. The reduction in the frequency of inspection correlates closely with the end to a fall in accident rates and there is no strong evidence to show that another cultural factor is the cause of this decline in HSE effectiveness.

  37.  Small and medium enterprises tend to rely on external interventions to ensure compliance. Although they recognise that they have a duty to comply with HSE regulations and guidance, in practice they will normally believe they are compliant until someone credible, such as the HSE, inspects and informs them otherwise. We do not believe that any more than a small minority of employers deliberately breach health and safety law and the issue is one of finding a form of regulation that improves knowledge and compliance.

  38.  We believe that the use of skilled experienced inspectors with enforcement powers is one of the key strengths of the British system of regulating health and safety. Naturally such effectiveness requires efficient policy, scientific and administrative support. We are extremely sceptical about support from senior HSE management for the use of intermediaries by the HSE to provide guidance on criminal law.

  39.  The use of inspectors with enforcement powers has considerable credibility with both employers and unions; and we believe that a policy of using other bodies to provide advice has led to an unacceptable decline in enforcement in the past. We believe that the HSE does not fully value the effective working relationships between inspectors and duty-holders, in particular a high reliance on inspectors as a source or as a gateway to advice does not suggest that an organisation does not have a robust safety culture. Often the credibility of other forms of intervention relies on an appreciation by an employer that these supplement rather than substitute for the role of the inspector.

  40.  Effective inspection and enforcement also relies on trusting the professional judgment of inspectors. Under the FIT3 programme the HSE intended to restrict the remit of inspections to key targets such as slips and trips, working at height and manual handling and any other issue of obvious concern. This may have reduced the length of inspections but it could override the professional judgment of inspectors who use their professional judgment to consider other issues that are likely to be important dependent upon the specific circumstances of the site, the organisation and its staff.

  41.   Prevention and Enforcement: It remains difficult to separate issues as the two are intimately linked. Much enforcement work is actually generated by preventative activity so we are not convinced that inspectors should concentrate on either prevention or enforcement. Our support for the 60-40 split between preventative and reactive work is explained in paragraph 25 of this submission.

  42.   Penalties: Given the relatively low level of fines for breaches of health and safety legislation compared to other forms of corporate malpractice such as breaches of data protection and anti-competitive behaviour, we believe that the current level of penalties creates the impression that the Government is less concerned about breaches of health and safety legislation. We would support a call to increase maximum fines to a fixed proportion of company turnover to penalise the rare employer whose unacceptable management of health and safety harms individuals and society.

  43.   Crown immunity: Whilst in practice, most Crown employers take health and safety seriously, there is no compelling reason why Crown immunity should remain. Indeed it could give the impression that the Government places a low priority on health and safety by seeking a wide-ranging exemption of its own activities from criminal prosecution. We welcome the removal of crown immunity as defence against corporate manslaughter and would welcome its total removal but do not see this as a major priority at present for the HSE.

  44.   Local Authorities: Whilst there is some prospect of developing further joint working with local authorities and improving their involvement in HSE policy, the scope for joint inspection warrants is limited due to the differences in skills of local authority enforcement staff, the substantially different priorities of local government and the severe constraints on local authority spending. We do not believe that transferring work to local authorities is a solution to central government under-resourcing of the HSE.

Section D: Hazardous Occupations

  45.  Prospect believes that more hazardous industries such as construction, nuclear, off-shore oil and gas need a deeper inspection regime which uses professional expertise to recognise the higher potential level of risk and the risk that consequences of an incident will be more significant than in other sectors. However, the use of safety cases runs the risk of reducing effective practical inspection. Migrant workers pose significant issues but these are related to their disproportionate employment profile with significant concentrations in agriculture and construction. Occupational health is a serious case of failure due to the run-down of the HSE's capacity to deal with occupational health issues.

  46.   Construction: The rise in construction fatalities is a national disgrace. Even with some statistical adjustment of figures the fact that construction workers are four times more likely to be killed at work is simply unacceptable. The evidence suggest that much more work needs to be done on individual construction sites to improve management leadership, safety knowledge and compliance with heath and safety regulations. In these circumstances, a substantial increase in the number of skilled and experienced construction inspectors is necessary to ensure that safety standards can be addressed on individual sites. The support of the industry and the Secretary of State for action is welcome but there is a fundamental issue of resources as this is one sector where routine site inspection that addresses the full range of construction issues is vital.

  47.   Off-shore work: Whilst the HSE has developed a series of initiatives with the offshore sector since the Cullen Report, it is misleading to suggest that here are no significant issues with offshore safety. Due to the aging life of offshore assets and the global skills crisis in oil and gas production, the already technically complex offshore industry faces a wider set of challenges as high oil prices prolong the life of existing oil installations. This places a higher premium on the professional skills of our members

  48.  Whilst safety cases have considerable value in preventing a repetition of the design faults that contributed to the Piper Alpha tragedy, their existence and the high level of mandatory inspection has reduced the ability of the HSE's Offshore Directorate (OSD) to undertake other initiatives at a time when the complement of OSD inspectors has reduced from 200 in 1994 to fewer than 120 today. At current salary levels, OSD could struggle to maintain staff numbers given that it has an aging workforce. Given the prospect of a longer life for many offshore assets, we believe that more inspectors should be employed to make site inspections to supplement the use of safety cases.

  49.  Given the severe financial and moral consequences of a major accident or shut-down due to faulty installations, the oil industry is prepared to pay for a higher quality of inspection by making OSD salaries more competitive as the key issue is the quality of judgments made by inspectors not the frequency of inspection.

  50.   Chemicals: The Buncefield incident suggests that the current system of safety regulation could be improved as the incident could have resulted in a substantial number of deaths, we would be happy to comment in more detail once the Buncefield report is released as the collection of evidence should demonstrate some practical steps to improve the safe regulation of the chemicals sector which contains some elderly assets.

  51.  As with offshore oil and gas, we appreciate the value of "permissioning" regimes where operators have to assure the HSE and environmental regulators that they will design out hazards and operate in accordance with their safety case. Due to financial constraints, the production and approval of safety cases has reduced the amount of time that the HSE can devote to site inspection and audit. The Buncefield report should start a debate on will demonstrate whether this approach is adequate but we believe that a better balance between safety case permissioning and site inspection would improve safety performance.

  52.   Migrant Workers: It is unclear whether or not migrant workers are more exposed to the risk of occupational accidents, but our belief is that this is likely. Moreover, we believe that HSE does not do enough to protect migrant workers from health and safety risks as they are more likely to work in areas of the economy such as agriculture and construction where inspection is poor even before the specific issues raised by the different training experiences, diverse safety cultures and potential problems with communication that affect migrant workers are considered.

  53.  Resource constraints have affected the time that inspectors can devote to agriculture and construction: given the relative lack of political lobbying power of their workforces, these sectors have been neglected in favour of other priorities. The impact has been a deterioration in the time spent on inspection: whilst working with major employers in both sectors has some benefits, the large extent of sub-contracting means that effective site inspection is especially important and this has suffered due to financial pressure on the HSE.

  54.   Occupational Health: Occupational ill-health has a huge impact on the UK economy. The Labour Force Survey 2006-07 suggests that around 2.2 million people suffered from ill health that they thought was work-related, of which 646,000 were new cases in the preceding 12 months. Lack of HSE resources restricts the prevention of ill health, and there is very poor enforcement of legal provisions relating to ill health. Prosecutions for causing ill health in the workplace are very rare, if they get investigated at all.

  55.  When occupational health provides the dual benefit of individual recovery and the prevention of illness for colleagues, it is strange that it is so neglected. We lag far behind our European partners on occupational health provision: for example, HSE commissioned research[57] showed that only 3% of UK companies provided reasonable levels of occupational health support. Decent provision of expertise in occupational health within the HSE is vital if Britain's position as the poor man of Europe is to change. There are now only around five (full-time equivalent) occupational physicians in HSE, and around 20 occupational health inspectors down from around 60 of each in the early 1990s. HSE's Corporate Medical Unit (CMU) is so depleted that it is no longer able to provide basic cover on occupational health advice and prevention, nor provide the leadership role it once did to the occupational health community in Great Britain. This decline in HSE's medical expertise presents a serious risk to Government credibility on preventing occupational ill health.

  56.  Occupational health professionals employed within the Health and Safety Executive are needed to oversee the active monitoring and reviewing of occupational ill health with the aim of prevention, of identifying weaknesses in employer provision, and to define and maintain standards. HSE's occupational health physicians and inspectors have much needed skills, combining expertise in occupational medicine with a detailed understanding and experience of health and safety law.

  57.  Prospect supports the call for a greater focus on rehabilitation as a means by which employers can retain the expertise and skills of staff who become ill or injured during their working life, but advises caution about its application. However, the focus on rehabilitation does not detract from prevention. Also the evidence for the effectiveness of resources spent on rehabilitation is somewhat sketchy. DWP Research concluded in 2005 Project RR339 and 342, The Job Retention and Rehabilitation Pilot, showed limited impact of rehabilitation on return to work. The review suggested (which is supported by anecdotal evidence from our members) that the strongest factor in determining length of absence is personal motivation to return to work: this impression is confirmed by the experience of our members.

Section E: Culture and the role of Government

  58.  One of the most disappointing trends in public life has been an increased wish by Government to override the professional judgment of health and safety at the same time as decrying the volume of health and safety regulation as sign of excessive interference in business and commerce. All the evidence suggests that profitability and good safety performance actually work hand in hand.

  59.  Prospect would wish to see a more intelligent approach to HSE regulation based on the following four principles:

    —    the recognition that the principle of proportionate action based on the specific circumstances of each employer delivers an effective system of regulation;

    —    recognition of the value of partnership between the HSE, employers and unions as good practice is dependent upon changing culture;

    —    respect for the professional judgment of inspectors, policy advisers and scientists rather than criticising the HSE simultaneously for not taking enough action to enforce safety standards and for heavy-handed regulation; and

    —    adequate funding.

Prospect

January 2008







55   MHSW 1999 regulation 5(1) "Every employer shall make and give effect to such arrangements as are appropriate, having regard to the nature of his activities and the size of his undertaking, for the effective planning, organisation, control, monitoring and review of the preventive and protective measures." Back

56   In the Field Operations Directorate for the whole of Great Britain there are around 500 to cover all the inspections, investigations and prosecutions for all manufacturing (except chemicals manufacturing), construction, the health services, education, all local authority activities, Govt departments and agencies, fire and police services, the defence industry and MOD, agriculture, fairgrounds, domestic gas safety, utilities, ports and docks, and others. There are around 80 chemical industries inspectors, 120 in offshore safety, and there are in addition around 180 operational specialist inspectors and engineers. The Nuclear Installations Inspectorate is 35 inspectors short of numbers needed to meet current inspection requirements and would be unable to respond properly to any new build programme. There are more traffic wardens in London than there are inspectors in the whole of HSE's Field Operations Directorate. Back

57   Survey of Use of Occupational Health Support, CRR 445/2002, HSE 2002. Back


 
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