Supplementary questions submitted DWP
Q1. How often are companies issued with enforcement
notices or prosecuted for failing to comply with statutory occupational
We are unable to separately identify the number
of enforcement notices issued and prosecutions that relate solely
to non-compliance with occupational health legislative requirements.
The enforcement data we hold (notices and prosecutions) is in
relation to specific statutory and regulatory requirements. We
cannot, generally, separate out health breaches from other breaches
except in specific "health" legislation (eg COSHH, Asbestos).
A large proportion of notices issued and prosecutions brought
are under HSWA (8,677 notices in 2006-07).
Q2. Are Occupational Exposure Limits (OEL)
enforced? If so do you have any figures on this that you can provide
Where chemical exposures are concerned, enforcement
action on occupational exposure limits occurs principally in context
of the COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) Regulations.
For the period 2006-07 HSE issued 1,097 Notices for breaches of
COSHH and secured 13 convictions, with an average fine, per conviction
Under Regulation 7 of COSHH, enforcement action
can include failure to comply with principles of good practice
for the control of exposure as well as non-compliance with workplace
1. COSHH regulation 7 (1) requires employers
"to ensure that exposure of his employees to substances hazardous
to health is either prevented, or where this is not reasonably
practicable, adequately controlled". Workplace exposure limits
(WELs) (also known as occupational exposure limits) form part
of Regulation 7 (7). This states "that exposure shall only
be treated as adequate if:
a) The principles of good practice for the
control of exposure to substances hazardous to health set out
in Schedule 2A are applied;
b) any workplace exposure limit approved
for the substance is not exceeded; and
c) for certain specified groups of substances,
exposure is reduced to as low a level as is reasonably practicable.
2. In addition to the COSHH Regulations,
occupational exposure limits are also found within the Control
of Lead at Work Regulations (a "control limit" is the
nearest equivalent in asbestos legislation).
Q3. Do you have inspectors whose sole remit
is occupational health? If so, how many?
Numbers of OH professionals
HSE currently employs:
7 doctors based in field offices
(5.7 Full-time equivalents) comprising:
3 senior medical inspectors; and
4 medical inspectors (2.7 Full-time
2 doctors in other corporate-support
25 (22.4 Full-time equivalents) OH
nurses as occupational health inspectors (OHIs).
HSE's Health & Safety Laboratory's (HSL)
Centre for Workplace Health has:
3 doctors (1.8 Full-time equivalents)
with 2 others joining in April 2008. All have/will have specialist
clinical appointments in the NHS in respiratory disease, OH and
2 occupational health and two respiratory
nurses (2.8 Full-time equivalents), and two occupational health
HSC/E's approach to OH is a combination of activities
including awareness raising, communication, inspection and enforcement,
HSC/E deploys a range of regulatory, specialist
and scientific staff in HSE and its Health & Safety Laboratory
(HSL) to develop and deliver its OH strategies, identify occupational
ill-health and its root-causes, and to advise employers on effective
strategies to eliminate or control exposure to hazardous substances
or the other causes of ill-health in the workplace. This is done
within the context of an overall framework of good OH management
with a view to sustained performance.
HSC/E's multidisciplinary approach to occupational
In most cases HSE's regulatory inspectors (or
enforcement officers in Local Authorities (LAs)) tackle occupational
exposure to harmful substances or cases of ill-health, using a
range of tools and techniques to influence employers' compliance
with health at work legislation from advice through, if necessary,
to formal enforcement including prosecution.
There are currently over 500 regulatory inspectors
in HSE deployed on front-line work in industries where they will
encounter a wide range of health issues. There are also around
1,000 enforcement officers in LAs across Great Britain dealing
with health issues in retail and office activities.
Inspectors are supported by HSE specialists
in a range of health disciplines and by scientist in HSL. HSE
regulatory inspectors can call upon, for example:
a national network of 40 occupational
hygiene specialists based in HSE's field offices, HSE's Corporate
Specialist Division and HSL for further assistance to help them
determine the levels of likely exposure of workers to hazardous
substances and identify reasonably practicable precautions to
prevent or control exposure.
Over 50 other HSE field- and HQ-based
specialist inspectors and scientists with expertise in other health
areas, eg, noise and vibration, biomedical science, radiation
protection, ergonomics and health psychology.
25 occupational health inspectors
(OHIs) to advise on standards of occupational health provision
in workplaces. This capability can be supplemented by the two
OH nurses in HSL.
7 HSE's medical inspectors based
in field offices, and though them the specialist medical capability
Q4. What proportion of a general inspection
is given to checks for causes of ill health?
For the 2006-07 year FOD inspectors spent circa
25% of their planned inspection time on ill health aspects of
the Fit 3 Agenda.
For the purpose of the question ill health topics
Other Respiratory Disease
The answer does not reflect FOD's total commitment
to ill health, with resource applied to both Advice Education
and Promotion (AEP) and Local Authority Strategic Programme (LASP)
(these two plus inspection make up the directorates pro-active
work). We also commit resource to our reactive elements of ill-health
(complaint, enforcement, and Investigation).
Q5. How often, if ever, does HSE take enforcement
action against companies who do not comply with worker representation
HSE inspectors use various enforcement
techniques to secure compliance with the law, ranging from the
provision of advice and good practice, to formal enforcement notices
(improvement and prohibition) and prosecutions. Formal enforcement
is only part of HSE's work. HSE inspectors always make specific
effort to talk to employee representatives as well as duty holders
to ensure compliance with the law.
Figures from HSE's internal Enforcement
Notices Database show that from 1997 to February 2008:
5 Improvement Notices have been served
for failure to comply with the Safety Representatives and Safety
Committee Regulations 1977.
42 Improvement Notices have been
served for failure to comply with the Health and Safety (Consultation
with Employees) Regulations 1996 (some in addition to notices
issued primarily for other breaches).
Q6. The Work and Pensions Committee heard
evidence that worker consultation on health and safety matters
in the off shore industry is particularly poor. Is anything being
done about this?
Workforce involvement has been recognised
as an area which can be improved and the Workforce Involvement
Group, which is a permanent sub-committee of the Offshore Industry
Advisory Committee (chaired by the Head of OSD) is giving this
issue urgent attention. Last year the Workforce Involvement Group
expanded its membership to better reflect key players across the
industry and now includes additional union representation, representatives
from Step-Change, International Association of Drilling Contractors
and three volunteer workforce representatives.
This year the group has already produced
revised guidance for offshore worker involvement (entitled "Play
Your Part") and is planning to hold a workforce involvement
event in Edinburgh on 8 May. This event aims promote and encourage
greater workforce involvement especially in the effective management
of major hazards. It is part of an ongoing Workforce Involvement
Group initiative. It has gained the support of Lord McKenzie,
the Minister with responsibility for Health and Safety, who will
open the afternoon session.