Further evidence submitted by DWP
Q1 DWP accepts that prosecution levels are
low and that penalties rarely reflect the seriousness of health
and safety offences. What is the Government doing to address this?
1. HSE does not measure itself by the quantity
of enforcement action it takes and does not set. HSE remains committed
to prosecuting in accordance with HSC's Enforcement Policy Statement
2. HSE's use of formal enforcement had fallen
over recent years however following a programme of work (the Enforcement
Programme) this trend has to some extent been reversed. The 2006-07
enforcement figures, released in November 2007, showed that both
the use of enforcement notices and the number of offences prosecuted
ENFORCEMENT FIGURES FOR 2006-07 (PROVISIONAL)
AND FOUR PRECEDING YEARS
|(Increase on 2005-06)||(+8%)
3. Ministers, HSC and HSE have long maintained that,
in general, fines for health and safety offences are too low.
The Government remains committed to raising maximum health and
safety penalties when there is a legislative opportunity and as
Parliamentary time allows (in line with the commitment made in
the Revitalising Health and Safety Strategy Statement Action Point
7June 2000). This includes making custodial sentences available
to the courts for most health and safety offences.
4. DWP and HSC/E welcome the Rt. Hon. Keith Hill MP's
Private Member's Bill to raise maximum penalties for health and
safety offences. The Bill received its Second Reading on 1 February
2008 and is now awaiting a date for its Committee stage in the
Q2 37 per cent of employers do not believe that they receive
sufficient health and safety guidance from HSC/E. What is HSC
doing to address this?
1. 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) Ipsos MORI poll
revealed the following statistics:
On quality 63% of employers and 73% of CEOs said
that the guidance they received from HSE was about right24%
of employers and 17% of directors said that they did not receive
enough while 10% of employers and 7% of directors said that they
received too much.
Amongst those who have had contact with HSE in
their work89% of employers and 90% of CEOs agreed that
HSE is a helpful organisation.
2. In a recent independent accessibility review of Government
websites, HSE's website achieved full marks in all areas of accessibility.
3. HSE recognises, however, that there remains a perception
that health and safety legislation can be 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 complying with, for example, HSE guidance are justified
by the benefits.
Q3 HSC has established a subscription-only site, hsedirect.
How do you respond to criticism that all HSC's advice and guidance
should be free to business?
1. The hsedirect service was introduced to meet a specific
need by bringing together guidance from HSE and legislative information
from the publisher's LexisNexis Butterworths. The value added
nature of the service requires that it should be priced.
2. HSC/HSE has given consideration to making all of HSE's
advice and guidance free to business. However, the loss of income
would have to be accompanied by a corresponding reduction in expenditure,
which in turn would require HSE to reduce health and safety activity.
In these circumstances, given HSE's full programme of work it
is not feasible to make all of its guidance, particularly more
specialist publications, freely available to business in the near
Q4 Is there any data on uptake of this service? What proportion
of hsedirect's subscribers are SMEs?
1. The service has averaged its current rate of some
3,000 annual subscribers each year, since its introduction in
2000. Some 300 day tickets, which provides access for 24 hours
are also taken out each year.
2. The HSE Direct service is not specifically aimed at
SMEs, therefore the number of SMEs paying the £299 (plus
VAT) current annual subscription is very small (approx. 5%).
3. HSE Direct was introduced to be of particular interest
and assistance to those at the top of large organisations and
their support staff to help them achieve high standards of health
and safety. The service provides a central resource for accessing
health and safety guidance and associated legal information.
4. In order to provide broader and more affordable access
to the service a day ticket to the full HSE Direct service is
available to all for £20 plus VAT.
Q5 What role will the new Risk and Regulation Advisory
Council (RRAC) play in improving businesses' approach to health
and safety? How do you expect the RRAC to address over-regulation
by duty holders and those who advise them?
The RRAC is in its early days and still developing its workstreams,
therefore it is not possible to give a detailed answer at this
stage. However, we do hope that the RRAC will help shine a light
upon the gap between genuine legal requirements and overly-bureaucratic
and risk-averse actions taken by a small number of organisations
that are then widely reported. This would be helpful in supporting
HSE's own work to focus attention upon practical measures to manage
Q6 Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations
employers are required to appoint one or more competent persons
to assist them. However, concern has been expressed about the
fact that competence for this purpose is not statutorily defined
and the guidance given on this term's meaning in the supporting
ACOP is rather general and imprecise, with the result that in
many situations risk assessments may be carried out by inappropriately
qualified people. How do you respond to this concern?
1. The competence required of a health and safety advisor
must be related to the job in hand, ie what particular advice
is to be provided. Advice provided could range from the relatively
simple, requiring not much more than informed commonsense from
the advisor (eg risk assessment where the risks are well-known
and the controls straightforward such as in offices, hairdressing
salons, motor vehicle repair shops) to those requiring a high
degree of specialism (eg risk assessment in a major hazard plant).
2. HSC/E's approach on competence must be flexible to
accommodate the scope of advice that could be required; thus the
approach taken sets competence as a goal to be achieved, rather
than as a required set of pre-determined, specified skills or
qualifications. It is for employers to satisfy themselves that
the advisors they use have a sufficient level of competence for
the job in hand.
3. The core criteria for basic competence in OSH management
are essentially defined in the Management of Health and Safety
at Work Regulations and should be applied by all businesses, including
6. HSE recognises that under-reporting is an issue, but
HSE combines information from RIDDOR with that from other sources,
such as the Labour Force Survey, to provide as full a picture
as possible of injury rates to inform HSE's and LAs' operational
activities, helping them to target resources effectively.
7. HSC conducted a Fundamental Review of RIDDOR during
2005 and early 2006. Respondents to the review's public discussion
exercise agreed that RIDDOR had flaws, but there was no consensus
on potential change.
8. HSC considered the outcome of the review in July 2006
and concluded that having thoroughly examined needs for information,
stakeholder views and potential change options, there was no clear
appetite for radical change at present and despite RIDDOR's flaws,
the costs and risks of change were not worth taking at that time.
9. The Commission directed HSE to make improvements to
streamline and simplify the reporting process and its communication,
particularly from the point of view of small and medium sized
businesses; and so make it clearer that reporting is easy to do
by calling the Incident Contact Centre.
10. HSE's actions centre on a new communications strategy
centred on a simple "just ring and report" message.
A new simple and better targeted leaflet, backed
up with new RIDDOR webpages that search-engines will find easily
and which consolidate information on RIDDOR into a single HSE
Upgrading the performance of the e-mail forms
to make reporting and recording easier.
Q8 How many calls have there been to the HSE helpline to
report cases of poor health and safety in a workplace? How many
of these have been investigated?
The total number of calls passed from the HSE Infoline to
HSE offices is recorded but a breakdown of the type and nature
of the calls is not. The calls passed on range from, for example,
concerns raised about specific workplaces to requests for detailed
advice or requests to speak to individual HSE staff. All concerns
reported to the HSE Infoline regarding poor health and safety
in relation to a particular workplace or work activity are passed
onto the relevant HSE office to be dealt with. HSE offices also
directly receive calls from the public raising concerns. All concerns
raised in relation to a work activity for which HSE is the enforcing
authority are subject to HSE's complaints procedure. HSE does
not keep records of the proportion of such calls that are investigated.
Q9 Where is the additional increased income in "charges",
as mentioned by Lord McKenzie in oral evidence, going to come
1. The increase in income will come from:
Recovering the costs of "common good"
work which are essential elements of the regulatory regimes in
high hazard industries but which cannot be attributed to individual
sites or companies. These costs will be included in the total
amount to be recovered in the large scale "permissioning"
schemes (Offshore oil and gas, onshore major hazardscovered
by the Control of Major Hazard Regulations, 1999and Gas
Transportation) from April 2008. Examples are policy development,
meetings with industry representatives to discuss and resolve
cross-cutting sector and emerging issues and guidance to inspectors
to ensure consistency; and
Extending cost recovery by extending charging
for "conventional" health and safety work in the nuclear,
onshore major hazard and gas transportation schemes to the extent
it is not already in place (except for smaller, less complex onshore
sites and a small number of larger sites where a hazardous substance
is used as part of the main function of the site). These proposals
will allow full cost recovery in these schemes.
2. Together, it is estimated that these measures will
mean that HSE recovers an additional £12 million of its existing
costs over the three year SR07 period. The estimates above do
not include any cost HSE incurs in relation to any new civil nuclear
power generation work.
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