Supplementary memorandum from DWP, January
Is the health and safety regulatory burden on
1. The majority of occupational health and
safety legislation is goal-setting, not prescriptive. This is
designed to allow the action taken by businesses to be proportionate
and specific to the risks involved. In many cases, the duty holder
can also decide what level of record keeping is sufficient to
manage the risks in their workplace. The inclusion of the phrase
"so far as is reasonably practicable", in both the Health
and Safety at Work Act and related regulations is designed to
ensure that employers need not go beyond what is reasonable in
the particular circumstances. The costs of compliance with legislation
therefore vary according to size and the hazards inherent in the
2. An issue sometimes raised about goal-setting
legislation is that small businesses can have difficulty recognising
what is proportionate action which can also lead to calls from
duty holders for more prescriptive guidance from HSE. There is
some evidence to suggest that perception of what is required by
regulation is not always an accurate reflection of the legislation.
Therefore the costs the business attributes to occupational health
and safety legislation may not be entirely due to regulatory requirements.
3. The respective roles of HSE and local
authorities as the regulators and those who own and manage workplaces
should not be lost sight of. HSE's approach, working together
with local authority partners, is to target priority risks and
sectors, and apply an appropriate mix of intervention and influencing
techniques including inspection, enforcement action, communication,
advice and support. A fundamental principle of the legal framework
is that the responsibility for health and safety lies with those
who own and manage workplaces. They must assess the risks attached
to their activity and take proportionate action.
4. HSC and HSE endeavour to ensure that
the cost of complying with health and safety legislation is proportionate
to the risk. We are therefore working to minimise the costs to
business through the initiatives in the HSC/E simplification plan
and aim to reduce administrative burdens on business of health
and safety legislation by 25% by 2010. As part of this commitment,
HSE initiated its sensible risk management campaign and other
complementary initiatives to make clear what is expected of businesses.
Are EU directives interpreted and translated by
HSC into UK law appropriately?
5. HSE's policy is to implement EU directives
without gold-plating and not to double bank. In 2006 Lord Neil
Davidson QC, carried out a review of the UK's implementation of
EU legislation, specifically to identify whether and where gold-plating
of European regulation had led to additional burdens on business.
The Davidson Review report did not identify any gold-plating of
UK occupational health and safety legislation which required action.
The only significant extension of EU legislation was to the self-employed,
and this was deemed to be justified to ensure a level playing
field for small businesses.
6. All implementation policy proposals are
subject to impact assessment and public consultation. In addition,
HSE has instigated a checkpoint process to ensure that negotiation
and implementation of EU directives follows better regulation
7. An example of HSE's work within Europe
to ensure proportionate legislation includes the successful defence
of the concept of "so far as is reasonably practicable"
in the European Court of Justice (ECJ).
The ECJ's decision to dismiss the EC's application enables HSE
to maintain its risk-based approach to protecting employees and
others effectively, whilst allowing commonsense to be applied
when deciding on what protective measures to adopt.
Are businesses given appropriate guidance by HSE
on their obligations under health and safety law?
8. HSE produces two forms of published guidance:
detailed, authoritative, formal guidance (including Approved Codes
of Practice); and shorter information leaflets, which are usually
free and downloadable. HSE guidance is widely praised. The latest
(2006) MORI poll revealed the following statistics:
On quality80% of employers
and 82% of CEOs said that the information they received from HSE
was easy to understand.
On quantity63% of employers
and 73% of CEOs said that the quantity of guidance they received
from HSE was about right.
Amongst those who have had contact
with HSE in their work89% of employers and 90% of CEOs
agreed that HSE is a helpful organisation.
9. In a recent independent accessibility
review of Government websites, HSE's website achieved full marks
in all areas of accessibility.
10. HSE recognises, however, that there
remains a perception that health and safety legislation can be
over-bureaucratic. It is to help address this that HSE has put
in place its Sensible Risk Management initiatives. These aim to
demystify risk management and help businesses see what "good
enough" risk assessment looks like. In addition, the new
impact assessment process now in place requires that the impact
of all significant non-regulatory policy proposals are assessed
to ensure that the costs of compliance for example with HSE guidance,
are justified by the benefits.
What impact will the Corporate Manslaughter and
Corporate Homicide Act (2007) have on businesses' approach to
occupational health and safety?
11. Whilst there are no new duties under
the Act, it is likely to spur boards to re-examine the health
and safety performance of their organisationsand their
role in itsince the offence created by the Act revolves
around failures of senior management. New leadership guidance
for directors, jointly published by the Institute of Directors
(IoD) and HSC, will help boards and directors to ensure they have
the right systems in place to manage health and safety effectively,
thereby minimising the risk of their organisation falling foul
of the Act.
12. Under the Act, juries may consider relevant
health and safety guidance issued by the regulator. The new guidance
may be relevant, depending on the circumstances of the case.
Are director's health and safety duties appropriately
covered by voluntary guidance?
13. The new leadership guidance for directors
does not stand alone.
It is just one aspect of the current arrangements, involving a
mix of legislation, enforcement and voluntary guidance, which
serve to focus directors' attention on their responsibilities
for health and safety, and to influence their behaviour. In addition
to the new guidance and the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate
Homicide Act 2007, the relevant provisions are:
enforcement action against individual
directors under the Health and Safety at Work 1974. If a health
and safety offence is committed with the consent or connivance
of, or is attributable to any neglect on the part of, any director,
manager, secretary or other similar officer of the organisation,
then that person (as well as the organisation) can be prosecuted
under section 37 of the Act; and
the Company Directors Disqualification
Act 1986, which may be used by the courts to disqualify an individual
following the conviction.
14. HSC has given close attention to the
issue of director responsibilities. In 2005-06, in conjunction
with its stakeholders, the Commission considered the effectiveness
of the current arrangements and, in particular, whether to recommend
to Ministers that new legal duties on directors should be introduced.
The discussions with stakeholders made clear that whilst there
was broad consensus on the vital role director leadership plays
in ensuring high standards of health and safety, there were strongly
divergent views about the most effective means to ensure directors
play their part: certain trade unions and victim support groups
made a strong case in favour of further legislation, whilst employer
organisations were largely opposed.
15. The Commission was unable to recommend
further legislation to Ministers at that stage; however, it did
take steps to strengthen the existing arrangements, specifically
issuing clearer guidance to inspectors
on enforcement; and
asking the IoD to lead work to prepare
their new leadership guidance.
16. If these changes do not deliver, the
HSC Chair has made clear that the Commission will revisit the
question of further legislation. It will be a couple of years
before the impact of the guidance and other changes can sensibly
What influence does HSE have as a statutory consultee
in local authority planning?
17. HSE is a statutory consultee on planning
applications around non-nuclear, on-shore major hazard sites such
as chemical plants, gasholders and large-scale petrol storage
depots. European legislation requires member states to institute
identify sites where dangerous substances
above certain thresholds are present;
ensure that measures are taken by
operators to prevent major accidents; and
limit the consequences of such accidents
on the population in the vicinity of hazardous installations.
18. One way of mitigating the effect of
major accidents is through land use planning measures, and this
part of the European requirement is implemented in the UK through
planning legislation developed by the Department for Communities
and Local Government and devolved administrations in Scotland
and Wales and administered by local authorities.
19. HSE provides safety-related advice to
local planning authorities (LPAs) to inform their decision to
grant hazardous substance consent or planning permission. HSE's
advice is based on the most up-to-date scientific and technical
knowledge, and takes account of the residual risk after all the
preventive measures which the law requires have been taken at
20. It is for the LPA to make the planning
decision, weighing local needs and benefits and other relevant
considerations alongside HSE advice. The weight to be given to
different, potentially competing, considerations is a matter for
the LPA although it is guided not to over-ride HSE's advice without
the most careful consideration. In the majority of cases LPAs
follow HSE's advice. The present system for assessing risk around
onshore, non-nuclear major hazard installations does not take
account of societal risk, which is the risk that a large number
of people could be harmed by a single incident. HSE's assessments
are currently based on the concept of "individual risk"
and consider risk and harm to people at each proposed development.
21. A consultation exercise was carried
out by HSE on behalf of the Government between April and July
2007 on the principles for taking societal risk into account in
major hazard control and land use planning. The results of the
consultation and the Government's decision on taking this matter
forward will be published shortly.
22. HSE is not a statutory consultee for
proposed developments near nuclear sites, although planning guidance
directs LPAs to consult HSE on the (rare) occasions when such
developments are being considered.
Does the HSE have sufficient resources to fulfill
its objectives as the health and safety regulator and meet its
23. HSE has already indicated that it is
no longer meeting the internal aim of 60% proactive work and 40%
reactive (investigation and enforcement work) in those sectors
which its Field Operations Directorate inspects.
24. Achievement of the PSA targets requires
contributions both from HSE and the many stakeholders, including
duty holders, representative bodies and trade unions.
25. Part of HSE's contribution is through
preventative inspection which is a key intervention aimed at delivering
the component of the PSA that seeks reductions in fatal and major
26. The ill-health and sickness absence
PSA targets are more difficult for HSE and other stakeholders
to tackle. HSE work in this area, both with direct intervention
programmes and in developing standards, tools and awareness for
employers and others to use, has generally been praised and, given
the reversal in occupational health statistics in 2006-07, HSE
would wish to intensify its efforts to achieve the PSA targets
over the CSR07 period. However, in HSE's view, these efforts should
not be funded at the expense of investigation and enforcement.
Reductions in HSE's budget, not met from further efficiencies,
would inevitably fall on its health and other programmes.
Does HSE allocate its budget efficiently?
27. HSE has taken significant steps to operate
efficiently over the current (SR04) period and it is planning
to build further on this position over the next Spending Review
28. HSE's current three-year economy and
efficiency programme (2005-062007-08) will deliver over
£50 million of improvements, over half of which are cash
releasing, with the remainder delivering improvements in productivity.
Some of this productivity simply helps HSE to stand still in the
face of increasing demand and complexity (eg in legal and technical
process). Over the past 18 months, HSE has made significant staffing
reductions while generally maintaining key outputs through rigorous
prioritisation and adoption of different approaches, eg adopting
a risk-based approach to complaints investigation. HSE is now
however at the limit of being able to prune further if it is to
avoid serious impacts on its health and safety intervention programmes.
29. Within the efficiency programme, HSE
has invested in Information & Communication Technology (ICT)
as part of redesigning and reducing specific functions. For example,
an IT-enabled HR system resulted in HR staff reductions of approximately
one-third. HSE has outsourced functions that are not core parts
of its work, eg IS/IT services (provided by Logica CMG), facilities
management, payroll and pensions administration, telephone advice
services, and the provision of temporary staff.
30. We have also considered alternative
approaches and in 2006 commissioned a Fundamental Review conducted
by an independent consultant previously employed by the Prime
Minister's Delivery Unit. The resulting action plan is being implemented
in order to direct more of HSE's staff to front-line activities,
make better use of the scarce specialists we employ and to secure
greater value for money from the services we buy in from others.
31. HSE's future plans on efficiency and
effectiveness are focussed on redesigning significant elements
of the way it operates including : the How and Where We Work programme
aimed at making HSE's working arrangements for headquarters and
the field estate more effective, while reducing estates costs
and improving the standard of our poorer accommodation; developing
a single point of contact for the majority of external telephone
calls and requests for information from the public; and continuing
to drive improvements in the time our front-line staff spend on
direct health and safety interventions.
Are there areas of HSE's operations that require
32. HSC/E's aim is to meet the wide range
of functions and statutory duties that legislation and Parliament
expect of it and to concentrate on achieving the 10-year "Revitalising"
targets for reducing the incidence of fatal and major accidents,
ill-health and working days lost. This scope inevitably means
that, whatever HSE's budget, there will be competing priorities.
33. HSC/E strategy for workplace health
and safety sets out how we and our partners intend to influence
health and safety outcomes in the workplace. This is achieved
by making optimum use of our resources through a mixed intervention
approach of: targeting priority risks and sectors; applying appropriate
influencing techniques; inspection; taking enforcement action;
communication; and offering advice and support. We have no plans
to change the principles and criteria in our Enforcement Policy
Statement which is a major factor in determining the level of
investigation and enforcement activity. Once this is taken into
account, the scope of discretionary intervention is limited and
this is the area in which judgements need to be made about competing
34. We believe of course that we can do
more, genuinely valuable preventative work which our stakeholders
tell us that they want. Our Plan of Work shows the judgements
weHSC/Ecome to, with the Secretary of State's approval,
to balance competing priorities for best effect within the budget
What impact has the reduction in inspection rates
had on standards of occupational health and safety?
35. In line with the Commission's strategy,
HSE tailors its interventions to seek to secure the best outcomes.
HSE continues to work proactively to prevent incidents from those
industries that have the potential to cause significant harmsuch
as on-shore chemical and offshoreand to maintain our international
36. For other duty holders, there is not
a cyclical plan of inspectionsrather HSE targets proactive
interventions on the basis of relative risk. During these proactive
interventions, HSE inspectors carry out topic-based inspections
to form an assessment of how well the duty holder is able to identify
and manage their own risks. Topic-based inspections sample the
control measures in place to manage specific areas of riskfor
example, stress or falls from height. These areas are selected
because our analysis shows controlling these risks should prevent
statistically significant causes of accidents and cases of ill-health,
so helping achieve the targets set by the Government.
37. During such proactive interventions,
HSE inspectors will also deal with any matters of evident concern
found during the course of any inspection. The follow-up to proactive
interventions and any advice given or action taken is determined
on a risk basis both in terms of whether to follow up a particular
visit or, indeed, which matters to pursue. HSE and local authorities
also intervene in those circumstances requiring investigation
and possible enforcement action, including responding to complaints.
For relatively low risk duty holders such as some small and medium
enterprises, the strategy is to provide advice and guidance and
other outreach activities such as communications campaigns rather
38. Whenever and however HSE intervenes,
the statutory responsibility remains with the duty holder to manage
and mitigate the significant risks which its enterprise is creating
for either its workers or those affected by the work activity.
Some duty holders meet their statutory obligations of their own
volition, others following encouragement by, or where necessary
as required by, HSE.
39. Given the above, and as was argued at
the evidence session on 28 November, HSE does not think it is
possible to identify a direct relationship between the number
of inspectors, the "inspection rate" and any proxy for
occupational health and safety standards such as the Public Service
Agreement. In addition, again as argued at that evidence session:
A culture within an organisation
which is dependent on an inspection to rectify health and safety
deficiencies will not in the long term secure the necessary standards
of occupational health and safety. Indeed, since such an organisation
could not be relied upon to manage their own affairs, a pattern
of permanently high-level external inspection would be created.
Cultural change can result from many
inputs, one of which, and an important one, is inspectionbut
this is not the only one HSE deploys.
The Commission strongly supports
the need for, and the delivery of, a mix of both proactive and
40. It is also relevant that inspectiona
necessary and an effective tool though it ishas a low multiplier
effect being focused largely on the individual duty holder (although
there can be a ripple effect flowing from inspection). Other complementary
interventions of HSE have much higher gearingfor example,
our Safety and Health Awareness Days.
Does HSE get the balance right between prevention
41. Our aspiration is to maintain a 60-40
ratio in our preventive: reactive caseload, as endorsed by HSC.
However, in practice, the actual ratio reflects the work necessary
to follow HSC's Enforcement Policy Statement
and arrangements made under it (eg incident selection criteria).
There are also pressures (eg to maintain contact with relatives
of people killed at work and to ensure that HSE investigates all
reasonable avenues) that force our reactive time upwards. Newer
developments, such as the need to assist the Police with prosecutions
under the new Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act
2007, may further increase HSE's reactive time.
42. HSE continues to look for improvements
in its investigation and enforcement processes to make them more
efficient and effective. However, it is inevitable that if HSE's
resources reduce, the balance of its work will shift towards an
increase in reactive activity because of the requirement to continue
to apply HSC's Enforcement Policy Statement and incident selection
criteria. Only proactive work is discretionary.
Are penalties for health and safety offences proportionate?
43. Ministers and HSC have long maintained
that fines for health and safety offences are generally too low.
This view was supported by the Hampton and Macrory reviews.
Criminal penalties are an important way to express society's condemnation
of serious failure to safeguard others. Penalties also promote
compliance, and encourage preventive measures.
44. The current level of fines does not
reflect the seriousness of the health and safety offences which
come to court, nor are they sufficient to be a real deterrent,
though there have been some encouraging fines in particular cases.
In 2005-06, the average penalty per conviction, excluding railways,
chemical, mining and offshore industries, was £29,997; but
excluding exceptional fines of £100,000 or more, the average
falls to £6,219. The level of fines is set by the Courts
not by the HSE. HSE applies for costs in England and Wales and
achieves approximately 95% cost recovery.
45. The Government remains committed
to raising maximum health and safety penalties when there is a
legislative opportunity and as Parliamentary time allows. Despite
four attempts by the Government, using Handout Bills (in 2000,
2003, 2004 and 2007), Parliament has yet to agree to pass legislation
allowing for an increase in penalties. However, Keith Hill MP
Private Member's Bill, the Health and Safety (Offences) Bill,
will receive its Second Reading in the House on Commons on 1 February
2008. The Bill will extend the maximum lower court fine of £20,000
to most offences, including breach of regulations (the higher
court fine remains unlimited) and will extend the range of offences
which may attract a custodial sentence in both the lower and the
Should the removal of crown immunity be a priority
46. The lifting of Crown immunity from statutory
health and safety enforcement is a matter for Government. It is
a long-standing Government commitment that awaits a Parliamentary
opportunity. HSC/E supports the lifting of Crown immunity.
47. The Government considered using the
draft Corporate Manslaughter Bill to lift Crown immunity, following
a recommendation by the Joint Committee of the Home Affairs and
Work and Pensions Select Committees. While that option was not
taken forward, the subsequent Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate
Homicide Act 2007 does largely remove the Crown immunity that
applied to the existing common law corporate manslaughter offence.
This is welcome and consistent with Government and HSC policy
to secure the eventual removal of Crown immunity for all health
and safety offences.
48. The Committee may wish to note that:
While HSE as a Crown body cannot
itself be prosecuted or be subject to formal enforcement notices,
it has no immunity from civil proceedings.
Although MOD as a Crown body retains
Crown Immunity from prosecution for all health and safety offences
under the Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA), it is bound by
the duties. As in other Crown bodies, MOD staff do not share the
organisation's immunity. MOD has agreed to abide by the terms
of the General Agreement it entered into with HSE in 2001, which
sets out the principles governing HSE's inspectorial relationship
with it. That includes complying with Crown Notices and Censures
in connection with health and safety failures, as set out in Cabinet
Office Personnel Information Note 34. MOD is committed to the
management of health and safety and has in place comprehensive
safety policies and procedures endorsed by the Secretary of State.
HSE accepts that MOD takes the Crown Censure process very seriously.
How effectively do HSE and local authorities interact
in their inspection roles?
49. HSC's strategy emphasised the importance
of effective interaction between HSE and local authorities (LAs).
The arrangements in place at the time the strategy was being drawn
up (in 2004) did not capture the full potential of HSE and LAs
to work together. Accordingly, a programme was established to
forge a more effective partnership between HSE and LAs so as to
get the maximum impact from the regulators' combined resources.
The last three years has seen a growth in the number of joint
field activities and initiatives, both those directed at the health
and safety targets and at developing the local arrangements to
support the partnership. Steps taken include:
HSE appointed field-based partnership
managerssupported by seconded LA staffto develop
the partnership directly with the LAs in the regions, Scotland
New governance arrangements ensuring
widespread local government involvement in policy and programme
An interactive extranet connection,
allowing LAs to exchange and access directly HSE and other LA's
electronic legal, technical and policy information and other key
Better access to common guidance,
scientific and technical support, training and research.
Joint planning between LAs and HSE
on major work initiatives such as the Fit3 programme.
A range of developments on enforcement,
aimed at ensuring consistency and adherence to "better regulation"
principles. These include the development of a common competency
framework for all health and safety inspectors and a system of
"flexible warrants" for LA and HSE inspectors.
50. A recent review has confirmed our belief
that the partnership is fast becoming "the way we do business".
The relationships which underpin this work, at the centre and
in the field, have improved, though challenges remain: eg ensuring
consistent risk-based approaches to inspection, investigation
and enforcement practice, in regulating large, multi-site businesses
effectively and efficiently, and in engaging local government
effectively in strategic issues and policy development.
51. Effective partnership is a long-term
endeavour. The introduction of local area agreements for all LAs
in 2008 and the establishment of the Local Better Regulation Office
provide further opportunities to ensure that HSE and LA health
and safety regulatory activities are effectively joined-up, are
better directed to having an impact on the Commission's priorities,
and contribute to LAs' wider strategic objectives for safe, healthy
and economically successful communitiesbut they also bring
new challenges to be managed.
Is HSE doing enough to improve health and safety
standards in hazardous occupations, in particular:
(i) Is HSE doing enough to tackle the rise
in fatalities in the construction industry?
(ii) Is HSE doing enough to tackle offshore
health and safety risks in the oil and gas industry?
(iii) Is HSE doing enough to maintain health
and safety standards in the chemicals industry?
(i) Is HSE doing enough to tackle the
rise in fatalities in the construction industry?
52. HSE's Construction Programme is tailored
to addressing the key issues, in partnership with the industry,
to halt the rise in fatal construction-related accidents and build
on the improvements already made over recent years. Central to
the strategy underpinning HSE's Construction Programme are the
objectives of ownership by the industry, leadership from senior
industry figures and partnership working between those who create,
manage and are exposed to risks.
53. As HSE noted in its earlier Memorandum
to the Committee the goal of HSE's Construction programme is to
work effectively with key stakeholders to improve health and safety
standards. This goal presents particular challenges, not least
of which is tackling the high fatal accident rate in the industry.
At over four times the all-industry average, it results in the
largest number of fatalities to workers of any industry sector
in the UK economy. The fatal accident figures for 2006-07 show
a rise from 60-77, an increase of 28% over the exceptionally low
figure in 2005-06.
54. However, the fatal accident figures
for the construction industry for 2006-07 need to be viewed against
a backdrop of a buoyant construction industry. The housing sector,
in particular has grown significantly, with housing output having
increased by 97% between 2001 and 2005. The majority of the increase
in fatal accidents in 2006-07 occurred in the house building and
domestic refurbishment sectors, areas in which the HSE has already
redoubled its efforts. The trend for fatal accident and major
injury rates for construction over the longer term remains downwards.
55. HSE is continuing its work in support
the framework of action agreed by stakeholders flowing from the
Secretary of State's Construction Forum. HSE work and future plans
in response to the challenge of increased fatal injuries in construction
A highly successful inspection initiative
in refurbishment over the Summer when formal enforcement action
was taken at one in three of all sites visited.
Repeating this successful initiative
in early 2008.
HSE's national communication campaign
targeting slips, trips and falls in a number of industries including
Running regional seminars with the
Home Builders Federation to share and disseminate health and safety
Background on "Permissioning" regimes
in the onshore chemical industry and all installations in the
offshore oil and gas industry
56. The major hazard industries within the
onshore chemical industry and all the installations in the offshore
oil and gas industry are covered by "Permissioning"
regimes. There are differences in the detail but the common principles
are that the operator has to produce a safety case or report to
set out the hazards created by their activities and to demonstrate
that there are effective measures in place to manage or control
the associated risks.
57. HSC policy with respect to permissioning
is set out in its policy statement.
HSE assesses and analyses these reports and uses them, together
with other sources of intelligence, to carry out risk-based verification
by inspection. Permissioning regimes are an addition to the general
framework of health and safety law. They are resource intensive
for both the duty holders and regulators, and both these sectors
attract charging of duty holders to cover the costs incurred by
58. The charge for regulatory activities
in the onshore chemical industry and all installations in the
offshore oil and gas industry is calculated by reference to time
expended by HSE in carrying out its functions with regard to that
establishment on any occasion and will include all relevant costs.
£6.69 million and £8.05 million was recovered from industry
in 2006-07 by HSE in connection with its Control of Major Accident
Hazards (COMAH) and offshore regulatory activities respectively.
(ii) Is HSE doing enough to tackle
offshore health and safety risks in the oil and gas industry?
59. The offshore oil and gas industry comprises
around 300 installations ranging from unmanned gas platforms to
large oil and gas platforms and includes floating production installations
and drilling rigs. The North Sea is one of the most challenging
and hostile working environments for oil and gas extraction in
the world. It currently employs some 30,000 offshore workersan
increase of 50% in recent years.
60. In 1988 fire and explosions on the Piper
Alpha offshore installation caused 167 deaths with only 61 survivors.
The subsequent report of the Cullen Inquiry
made 106 recommendations to improve offshore safety. All the recommendations
were implemented. Key recommendations included a thorough review
and reform of offshore health and safety legislation and the introduction
of a safety case or "permissioning" regime because of
the inherent hazards involved in the sector. The accident/incident
performance of the industry has improved steadily since Piper
Alpha but recently this improvement has plateaued and it is clear
that the industry needs to do more to improve its performance.
61. Many of the current challenges to safety
in this sector are the result of under-investment in the long-term
future of the industry during the 1990s. At that time oil prices
were low, installations less profitable and the future of the
industry on the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) was open to question.
This legacycompounded by the fact that much of the infrastructure
is at, or has exceeded its intended design lifehas lead
to significant operational challenges for the safe running of
installations as the industry has increased activity levels in
response to the increase in oil prices in recent years. This increase
in activity has been mirrored worldwide with the consequence that
there is a serious shortage of skilled, competent personnel, and
62. HSE has engaged with the sector to tackle
these concerns. Since 2000 various HSE led programmes have focused
on the key risk issues of process and installation integrity.
These have seen reductions of over 40% in major and significant
hydrocarbon releases which are key major hazard indicators. HSE
has recently published a "state of the nation" report
setting out its findings from the latter stages of this work.
This has set out a clear improvement agenda. HSE has engaged with
the sector at its most senior level and secured acceptance of
the challenge and firm commitments to address it.
63. HSE led programmes have focussed on
the following key issues:
Asset integrity: building on the
priority issues identified in the recent report.
Leadership: this is a key issue for
all UK's major hazard industries. HSE will give particular emphasis
on the role of senior management in demonstrating leadership in
the management of major hazard risks and in driving cross-business
and cross-industry improvement.
Safety culture: to build on improved
work force involvement together with hazard and risk awareness.
Competence: A critical issue for
the effective management and control of process safety risks and
an area identified by the industry as essential for delivery of
improved safety performance.
64. HSE will continue to work constructively
with employers and employees of the industry and in particular
to encourage good performers to share best practice with others
but also to take strong enforcement action where appropriate.
(iii) Is HSE doing enough to maintain
health and safety standards in the chemicals industry?
65. The UK's chemical industry comprises
9,000 or so sites including refineries, large chemical and pharmaceutical
manufacturing plants, fuel/chemical storage and distribution sites,
and warehouses. It has some 250,000 direct employees. Whilst all
the sites are covered by the Health and Safety at Work Act, 1,100
of them are considered to present major accident potential and
are therefore covered by a "permissioning" regime through
the COMAH Regulations.
66. Much of the chemical industry plant
in this country is old and has been adapted or modified over the
years. HSE's intervention strategies are focussed increasingly
on containment issues and the barriers (physical, technical and
managerial) to failures in containment, which then have the potential
or worse to cause major incidents. The performance of the sector
is included in the HSE Public Service Agreement. There has been
a reduction of 36% in notifiable dangerous occurrences over the
last five years.
67. In addition, to increase the potential
to learn from near misses and pre-cursors, rather than simply
from incidents and accidents, we have worked with industry and
sector bodies to promote development of leading process safety
performance indicators to provide a greater degree of assurance
that risks are being effectively managed and a more reliable indicator
of performance. This work has received widespread acclaimincluding
in the Baker report into safety issues with BP in the US following
the Texas City refinery incident. Key performance indicators at
sector level have been developed for the fuel storage, chlorine
and refinery sectors. HSE is now working to roll this out across
the entire sector.
68. A key priority for HSE over the next
few years will be to work with the industry to implement both
specific and generic lessons learned from incidents at both the
Buncefield fuel storage depot and the BP Texas City refineryboth
of which have significant implications for the industry. Sites
similar to Buncefield are continuing to implement a programme
of agreed safety and environmental improvements HSE will continue
to maintain a high level of momentum in addressing the remaining
and any future recommendations made by the Buncefield Major Incident
Are migrant workers more at risk of occupational
69. This question is difficult to answer
with certainty at this time but HSE is working to obtain greater
clarity. Analysis of fatal occupational accidents for 2006-07
shows that there was no excess of identifiable migrant worker
Preliminary information from the Labour Force Survey for non-fatal
accidents also suggests that migrant workers are not at measurably
greater risk. However, the latter information should be treated
with some caution as likely sampling difficulties in respect of
migrant worker numbers in the UK, and their distribution across
employment sectors, make comparisons with rates for indigenous
70. A current HSE survey asks employers
for their view on whether their migrant workforce is at greater
risk of accident and ill-health than other workers. We expect
the results of this survey to be available during 2008. Additionally,
HSE will be shortly tendering research that aims to identify all
possible published and unpublished information on migrant worker
risk, and to evaluate its methodological quality, in order to
establish with greater certainty whether migrant workers are at
greater risk than the indigenous workforce.
71. "Migrant workers" and "vulnerable
workers" are overlapping terms, though not all migrant workers
are vulnerable. HSE's work on ensuring the protection of both
groups overlaps, and is collaborative with other agencies through
the work of, for example, the `Vulnerable Workers Enforcement
Forum' established by the Department for Business, Enterprise
and Regulatory Reform (BERR).
Does HSE do enough to protect migrant workers
from health and safety risks?
72. HSC regards protecting vulnerable (including
migrant) workers as a priority and reviews HSE's work on this
regularly. HSE's inspection activities on vulnerable workers are
largely through its mainstream programmes, and have concentrated
in key employing sectors. This will continue, and the scope will
be widened to all industries from April 2008 (from agriculture,
food and construction).
73. A good example of this approach is a
project on slips and trips in floor cleaning. Inspectors ask specific
questions about: the allocation of responsibility between labour
providers (agencies) and labour users where relevant; coverage
of risk assessments; and arrangements for overcoming language
difficulties in information, instruction, training and supervision.
74. Local inspection projects for 2008-09,
adapted to particular regional situations, will also include focus
on vulnerable worker topics. To improve targeting of inspections
HSE will continue to develop networks for sharing of information
at local and regional level with other workplace regulators, intermediaries
such as Citizens Advice, and nationally through fora such as the
Construction Industry Advisory Committee Vulnerable Worker Working
Group. When appropriate this will include joint working with other
75. HSE's published guidance for both employers
and workers sets out what duty holders need to consider when assessing
the risks to vulnerable workers and in taking steps to deal with
communications, risk perception and health and safety culture
issues in respect of information, instruction, training and supervision.
HSE produces targeted guidance in key areas such as a leaflet
for food/agriculture SMEs; and advice on language issues and on
employer/employment agency coordination on health and safety management
is included in the (2006) revised edition of "Essentials
of Health and Safety at work".
76. In June 2007 BERR set up the "Vulnerable
Workers Enforcement Forum" with a membership drawn from the
CBI, TUC, Unite, UCATT, GMB, GLA, Employment Agency Standards
Inspectorate and HSE, among others, and chaired by the Minister
for Employment Relations. The Forum is considering the evidence
about the problems faced by "vulnerable workers"
and whether new mechanisms or approaches to tackle workplace abuse
77. An important focus of the Forum will
be on improving the interface between enforcement agencies. HSE
is working with other agencies to improve collaboration as far
What must HSE do to meet its PSA targets for ill
health and days lost per worker?
78. HSE's unique role is to encourage employers
and others to prevent work-related harminjury, ill health
and consequent working days lostto workers and others who
may be affected by the activities. The latest health and safety
statistics show the size of the challenge we still face24
million working days lost with consequent loss of productivity
for British industry. HSE accepted the challenge of the PSA targets
but these targets were never for HSE alone to meet. We recognise
that tackling health issues takes a broad, concerted and sustained
effort in order to achieve measurable improvements.
79. HSE's current priorities in occupational
health include: musculoskeletal disorders (MSD); stress with particular
reference to the public sector; reducing sickness absence with
particular reference to the public sector; and reducing work-related
disease including occupational cancer.
80. To date we have targeted our ill-health
work on a number of priority sectors. We are now formulating a
multi-strand intervention plan to get back on track with occupational
ill-health targets. The strands involve investment in partnerships
with large employers, trades unions and cross industry groups
to promote more effective health in the workplace; development
of additional tools and standards for good practice on occupational
health issues along the lines we have taken on safety; proactive
inspection and enforcement particularly targeted at those employers
who are failing to take action on preventable ill-health issues;
communications to amplify the impact of the other strands; and
research into areas of emerging concern, eg the link between shift
work and breast cancer. It is important to deliver this as an
Does HSE do enough to embed vocational rehabilitation
in the workplace?
81. Effective vocational rehabilitation
requires the interaction of a number of stakeholders with the
prime responsibility lying with employers and insurers. The Government
lead is with DWP rather than HSE given that HSE's primary focus
is on prevention of workplace ill-health. DWP has convened a small
but focused Vocational Rehabilitation Task Force chaired by Lord
McKenzie whose remit is to:
develop evidence of what works/identify
effective interventions for the rehabilitation and return to work
of employees suffering from work related stress and MSDs;
produce advice, information and guidance
for employers and others involved in procuring rehabilitation
services on the what, why, where, when and how of rehabilitation;
investigate and where appropriate
make the case for provision of incentives/removal of disincentives
to encourage a wider take up of rehabilitation services; and
support and encourage contributions
of others in developing competence and delivery standards of providers
of rehabilitation services.
82. The Task Group has commissioned an evidence
review with the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council (IIAC) on
the effectiveness on the rehabilitation and return to work of
adults of working age suffering from common health problems and
83. The review will seek to answer the following
What rehabilitation and return to
work measures are effective?
When should these measures be implemented?
What is the impact on effectiveness
if these measures are delayed longer than six months?
How cost-effective are these measures?
84. In conjunction with the evidence review,
the task group has also commissioned work looking at how the market
acts as an incentive or disincentive to the development and provision
of vocational rehabilitation services.
Number of Inspectors Employed by HSE at
1 April 1998-1 December 20071
||1 Dec 2007|
|Of which are front line
1 Figures are shown as full time equivalent (FTE) posts, rounded
to the nearest whole number and include inspectors in HSE's Health
and Safety Laboratory.
2 The bold column is for comparison only and includes
inspectors transferred to the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR)
on 1 April 2006.
3 The duplicate column for April 2006 excludes inspectors
that transferred to ORR.
Ipsos MORI poll "Attitudes towards health and safety 2006-Understanding
Health and Safety" Back
The European Court of Justice's final judgement, on 14 June 2007,
dismissed the European Commission's case against the UK for allegedly
under implementing the Framework Directive, by use of the qualifier
"so far as is reasonably practicable" (SFAIRP) on an
employer's duty to safeguard his or her workers. See http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:62005J0127:EN:HTML Back
SiteMorse Website Benchmarking Survey Report-see http://survey-beta.sitemorse.com/survey/report.html?rt=304 Back
IoD and HSC, "Leading health and safety at work"-see
Philip Hampton's report Reducing administrative burdens: effective
inspection and enforcement (published March 2005). Richard Macrory's
review Regulatory Justice: Making Sanctions Effective (published
November 2006). Back
Revitalising Health and Safety strategy statement (June 2000). Back
HSC, "Our approach to permissioning regimes", see www.hse.gov.uk/enforce/permissioning.pdf Back
Department of Energy, 1990, "The public inquiry into the
Piper Alpha disaster", Cm 1310, HMSO. Back
In 2006-07 identifiable worker deaths made up 4% of total occupational
fatalities (10 out of a total of 241), whereas best (Labour Force
Survey-based and other) estimates suggest migrants make up approximately
5% of the UK workforce, and possibly more. Back
Government's Strategy paper, "Success at Work"
defines a vulnerable worker as someone working in an environment
where the risk of being denied employment rights is high and who
does not have the capacity or means to protect themselves from
that abuse. Back