Each year the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) publishes a business plan outlining their key areas of work. It identifies how the HSE will use regulatory, engagement, and assessment methods to continue to prevent work-related fatalities, injuries and ill health, and respond to current issues. This year these issues include preparing for the UK’s departure from the EU and reforms following the Grenfell Tower disaster.
The HSE has followed the current overall strategy since 2016. It is called Helping Britain Work Well and covers six strategic themes.
There should be broader ownership of health and safety in organisations. It should be a part of everyone’s role, and those who may have been less engaged will be encouraged to be more active.
Tackling Ill Health
There should be greater awareness of the harm, costs and preventability of work-related ill health. Increased awareness will drive long-term coordinated action in all sectors, including involving additional partners such as the NHS.
A key element will be earlier prevention, which will require an increased focus on health issues in the workplace.
Managing Risk Well
Every business should understand that proper risk management is about protecting an organisation’s most valuable asset, its people. The potential benefits of effective risk management include reduced absence, lower costs and a good reputation.
Businesses will gain a shared understanding of what good health and safety management looks like if health and safety professionals share best practice and deliver relevant advice.
Supporting Small Employers
Although micro and small businesses can be challenging to reach, there are opportunities to help these organisations manage workplace risks. Identifying key influencers and using peer and expert support will help these organisations fulfil their health and safety obligations.
Keeping Pace With Change
Great Britain is already a world leader in risk management. To maintain that position, we need to anticipate the challenges of tomorrow’s workplace and use flexible goal setting to discover solutions that enable innovation and the use of new technologies.
We should look to share our best health and safety practices and innovation around the world. Sharing these standards overseas can make it easier for British businesses to expand into new markets and territories. It will also create commercial opportunities to sell British health and safety ‘products’ and consultancy services.
The Business Plan
The Business Plan identifies the HSE’s current priorities. These are designed to support five objectives.
Lead and engage with others to improve workplace health and safety
- To continue focusing on tackling ill health as part of the Health and Work programme. The HSE will continue to focus on three major causes of work-related ill health: musculoskeletal disorders, occupational lung disease and work-related stress.
- To promote proportionality in health and safety management to reduce unreasonable or unnecessary demands on SMEs.
- To share the results of HSE research with influencers of workplace health and safety performance.
Provide an effective regulatory framework
- Support the government’s fundamental reform of building safety following the Grenfell Tower disaster, including inspections to ensure the safe removal of ACM cladding.
- Contribute to government-wide activities related to the UK’s departure from the EU. This includes changes to regulations for the supply and use of chemicals.
Secure effective management and control of risk
- Target inspections on specific issues and activities, including a sustained focus on work-related ill health. Where appropriate, this includes revisiting sites previously inspected to assess evidence of continuing and improved compliance.
- Investigate to swiftly tackle and reduce risks, securing accountability for victims and their families. There are targets for the completion of investigations in fatal and non-fatal accidents.
- Operate effective statutory schemes, ensuring the safe use of potentially harmful substances. This work includes evaluating pesticides and biocides and continuing to monitor the maximum residue levels of pesticides in food. There are also targets related to asbestos licensing.
Reduce the likelihood of low-frequency, high-impact catastrophic incidents.
- To provide assurance that duty holders are identifying and managing the major accident hazards. To this end, there is a programme of proactive inspections addressing priority areas at major hazard sites.
- Strengthen major hazard leadership and worker engagement. This includes assessing senior executives and board leadership for major hazard control and working to ensure the offshore workforce can play their part in managing offshore major accident hazards.
- Deliver robust and consistent regulation of offshore oil and gas infrastructure, with focus on developing a regulatory strategy for offshore oil and gas decommissioning and dismantlement.
- Secure improvements in the effective management of network assets, including gas risers in high-rise homes. The Grenfell fire highlighted failures by utilities and building control to monitor and manage the development of risk factors. The HSE will track progress on the required improvements.
- Drive duty holders to reduce the risk of offshore hydrocarbon releases. Although minor leaks have been almost eliminated, major releases still occur, risking multiple fatalities. The HSE will work to secure a greater focus by operators to improve safety leadership.
- Raise operator’s focus on cybersecurity to ensure appropriate protection against major incidents. The HSE will complete programmes of cyber security inspections at Critical National Infrastructure sites and other targeted major hazard sites. These will assess the risks s from the accidental introduction of malware or cyber attacks on industrial control systems.
Full details of the business plan are available in a 32-page document released by HSE.
There is a programme of inspections in the manufacturing industry. Specifically, inspections at approximately 1 in 10 woodworking premises in the first quarter of the year, at about 1 in 5 food and drink manufacturing premises during quarter 2, and inspections at approximately 1 in 15 fabricated metals premises during the fourth quarter of the year.
The construction industry continues to be one of the most hazardous sectors. Inspections will focus on prevention and control of musculoskeletal disorders and occupational lung disease, SMEs carrying out refurbishments, and inspections of principal designer services to put in place the requirements of the Construction Design and Management Regulations 2015.
Following recent incidents, there will also be a programme of inspections at fixed and travelling fairgrounds with a focus on standards of inspection and maintenance of rides and risk control associated with inflatables.
There are also inspection targets for the agriculture and waste and recycling sectors.
The current overall strategy, followed by the HSE, is designed to be implemented until 2020, making this the last business plan before a strategy review. It reflects the challenges and issues in maintaining and growing businesses and organisations so they can contribute to the country’s economy and social infrastructure while reducing risk to protect people and the environment.