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HSE Triennial Review recommendations on the right track

09 January 2014

The Government today published the long awaited Health & Safety Executive (HSE) Triennial review report - an independent review of the function, form and governance of the HSE carried out by Martin Temple.

Responding to the review, EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation says it agrees wholeheartedly with the main conclusions of the report that the existing functions of the HSE continue to remain necessary and, should continue its work as a non-departmental public body. EEF also agrees that HSE’s control and governance arrangements would benefit from further improvements and that HSE performance measures need to better clarified and made more transparent.

However, EEF believes the report has missed an opportunity to look in more depth at establishing a unified health and safety agency (including local authorities) to cover all workplace health and safety issues. EEF also believes the report has missed the chance to make health & safety a greater part of the ‘business growth’ agenda, especially in Europe.

Terry Woolmer, Head of Health and Safety Policy for EEF said: "The report has acknowledged the need for some sort of change to the HSE board structure. It advocates maintenance of the ‘tripartite’ arrangements but recognises that the Board requires members who have the right mix of competences to bring about effective strategic decision making. EEF would have preferred to see more input to HSE board decision making through a stakeholder council, but this is a step in the right direction.

"The report attaches importance to the need for a constructive relationship between enforcer and the duty-holder and expresses valid concerns about the potential impact of FFI on that relationship. We welcome the report’s recommendations and the need to consider alternative funding models.

"Although the personal view of the report’s author is that health and safety regulation should be enforced at all workplaces by HSE, we believe the report has missed an opportunity to look in more depth at establishing a unified health and safety agency (including local authorities) to cover all workplace health and safety issues. We recognise the practical issues around this but believe there was scope for the report to propose a feasibility study looking at this option.’

"We appreciate that public sector bodies need to be smarter in the way they spend their ‘finite’ resources in the current economic climate and welcome the suggestion of voluntary chargeable inspection services for organisations with mature health and safety management systems who may not appear on the HSE’s current inspection programme. There is a danger however, at some point in the future, that charging for all inspection activities becomes the norm.

"We do think that there has been under-investment in the provision of ‘funding’ for HSE. We know that investment in good health and safety makes business sense and saves businesses money. Equally, investment in HSE is of wider benefit to the UK economy and should in our view form part of the business ‘growth’ agenda. We would have liked to have seen the report target additional HSE resources in key areas, namely:

(a) the provision of a HSE inspector manned advice line,

(b) more pro-active work in Europe to debate OSH EU initiatives,

(c) pro-active involvement on CEN/CENELEC standard making groups,

(d) further HSE sponsored research, and

(e) increased levels of market surveillance to ensure a level playing field in relation to EU product directives.’

Read the review: http://http://http://bit.ly/1cR2y6e

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