Good afternoon Thank you to the organisers for inviting me and my colleague Robert Cooper to be here today. Robert’s presentation will focus on some of the specifics related to the Manufacturing sector.
I plan to focus on some of the changes which are taking place to the health and safety regulatory system and what they might mean for you but I would like to place all of this in context first.
Whilst we have a world class health & and safety performance in Great Britain, there is still plenty of room for improvement in every sector – including manufacturing. Many of you in this room will already have attended other seminars today where you have talked about "How to remain competitive", "Optimising efficiency", "Achieving Manufacturing excellence" and "Operational Efficiency ". At the risk of losing your interest for the rest of my presentation by giving you the answer at the start, rather than at the end; let me tell you that the things you need to do to improve health and safety in manufacturing are no different from the things you need to do to achieve your other goals. Moreover, improvement in health and safety is most effectively achieved when it is seen as being totally integrated into everything else you do. Those who try to do health and safety as a bolt-on, very rarely achieve a sustainable safety culture – just as quality and efficiency will not be achieved through adding them on as an afterthought to your processes.
For HSE, there is also some important context for the legislative reform programme that we are embarked upon. Despite the headlines about the levels of cuts to our funding and the large percentage reductions in the stock of regulation that will take place over the next two years, we need to be clear about the following:
Our firm belief is that by making the legislation simpler to understand we can encourage business to do what is required and increase levels of compliance and hence protection. Similarly, the introduction of fee for intervention will create an incentive for businesses to take action and do the right things rather than waiting to be told that things are wrong by HSE.
Over the last two years we have seen the publication of the Government's report: Good Health and Safety; Good for Everyone; the several consultations that followed up on recommendations contained in Common Sense; Common Safety; Professor Ragnar Loftstedt's review and the Red Tape Challenge.
The reviews have provided useful insight into existing issues and they have also confirmed HSE’s view that:
HSE’s commitment to improving and simplifying the stock of regulation predates all of these reviews, but there is now a new impetus which extends beyond the regulation into guidance, codes of practice and our approach to inspection and interventions. Our aim is to make it easier for business to do what is required but not to change the standards.
The overhaul of HSE’s guidance portfolio will provide a practical, proportionate approach for organisations across manufacturing and all other sectors to help them comply with health and safety law.
The revised guidance focuses on compliance and avoids unnecessary duplication; and preserves important information and messages that have been developed over many years which currently work for stakeholders. But the revised guidance does not place any new duties on anyone and it maintains the same standards of protection.
We intend to publish a refreshed version of 'Managing for Health and Safety’ also known as HSG 65 later this year. The manual is for directors, managers, health and safety professionals and employee representatives wishing to improve healthy and safe organisational standards. It will help them understand the 'who, what, when, where and how’ of responsible practice.
Our intention is that 'HSG65’ will form part of a set of core guidance covering the fundamentals of health and safety. The set also features, 'Health & Safety made Simple’ and 'Controlling risks in the workplace' and has been tailored to fit the needs of individual organisations depending on their level of risk and complexity and also the knowledge of the user.
I mentioned Fee for Intervention earlier, but now I want to explain where we are and how it fits with better targeting of our reduced levels of proactive inspection. HSE is very much in favour of making life as easy as we can for those who are doing or want to do the right thing. The former can essentially be left alone to get on with running their businesses, the latter are likely to be looking for help and advice on how to comply. But, we are equally committed to ensuring that those who choose to ignore or avoid their legal obligations are held to account. As we target our activities and our attention, there will be a reduced number of unannounced proactive inspections of workplaces where there is no obvious reason to have concern. Our reactive work in response to incidents and complaints received will not change at all. Reactive work - including taking enforcement action wherever it's warranted - will continue unaffected, based on our well established incident selection criteria and complaints system.
Our proposals for Fee for Intervention underline our approach to differentiating between those who are committed to doing the right thing and those who seek to gain commercial advantage and expose their employees to unacceptable risks.
It is part of Government Policy for HSE to extend the scope of its cost recovery. The public purse should not be expected to foot the bill for firms who fail to meet their health and safety obligations. The majority of businesses, those who already do the right things in terms of health and safety have no need to worry about this scheme. They will not have to pay. The costs for the time and effort HSE spends on helping to put matters right through investigations and enforcement action will only be recovered from those who are found to be in serious breach of health and safety laws. After an extended period of trialling of the scheme, Fee for Intervention will be formally introduced on 1st October this year.
All the essential information and detailed guidance for employers and organisations is now available on HSE's website, and we will be working with industry to ensure that the information is shared widely. There will also be an appeals process for any who feel they have been treated unfairly within the new scheme.
HSE's relationship with many sectors of manufacturing is mature, and we have good links to the industry trade associations. In some of these we have worked with the trade associations to identify suitable targets for accident reduction, and we assist the industry in providing the tools to achieve them - for example in developing industry specific guidance and embarking on awareness raising through Safety and Health Awareness Days (SHADs) or through good practice recognition and reward schemes. This is about helping industries to take back ownership for H&S improvement - it is business which creates the risk and who needs to manage those risks – not the regulator.
Manufacturing continues to be a relatively high-risk sector in comparison to many other employment sectors in the UK economy. Employing about 2.5 million people on average the sector gives rise to:
Despite considerable progress being made, these numbers must be reduced further. I find it difficult to conceive of an Operational Excellence or Efficiency programme which does not have health and safety performance as a key component. The case for health and safety is clear and the benefits include:
Improving health and safety also helps you improve morale and productivity in your business. Your employees can do their work with less difficulty and less danger. They will appreciate improvements you make to their working environment. This can save you money and add to your profitability in the long run.
The key to excellence in health and safety is in our view about keeping things simple, being proportionate and focussing on the real risks not the trivia. Worry less about campaigns to encourage holding of the handrails in the offices and do more to ensure that things like safety lock-outs and guarding are installed and used properly on moving machinery.
HSE champions a focused and proportionate approach from everyone. For anyone involved in the manufacturing sector this means taking responsibility and leadership to ensure that you understand what are the real risks in your business, and committing resources to addressing those risks, not to the trivial, much less important stuff. The actions you take should be proportionate to the risks faced and there should be a shift in mindset towards one that finds smart solutions and prioritises enabling things to happen over creating bureaucratic obstacles and paperwork.
This approach needs to be embedded throughout every level of an organisation, from Boardroom to shop floor. Leaders should demonstrate a commitment to improving standards and show that they actually understand the value of good health and safety and take it seriously. Workers have their own part to play too – they should be encouraged to help solve problems alongside the leaders or their employers. These principles apply to all workplaces irrespective of their size or any other factor.
To summarise. HSE will deliver on its reform agenda and, in doing so we will create a better health and safety system for Great Britain – same standards but easier to understand and to achieve. But you all have to play your part. Demonstrate an approach which is proportionate and risk-based. Do 'health and safety’ as an integral part of your work, make it part of being competitive, optimising production and achieving manufacturing excellence.
Health and safety has always been about protecting people from death, injury and serious debilitating illness caused by work. The so called health and safety monster is made of paperwork, unnecessarily complex management systems and bureaucracy.
I hope that what I have talked about has been useful and has provided you with some food for thought. If you require more information on any of the topics that I have discussed or want to track progress with the many developments I have talked about please visit www.hse.gov.uk – the site is updated very regularly and lots of useful information can be found there.