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All-Party Parliamentary Group on Occupational Safety and Health parliamentary reception to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Health and Safety at Work Act - 16 July 2014

Judith Hackitt CBE, HSE Chair

Portcullis House, Westminster, London

Good evening.

Thank you for inviting me to say a few words. 

As we celebrate the 40th Anniversary of HSWA let me remind you all just how smart GB’s health and safety system is, why it remains, fundamentally, fit to face the future, and why we should take pride in our world class system.

Its principles are the key.

Put simply, health and safety law in GB places responsibility on those who create risks to manage those risks in a proportionate, practical way. It sets standards in terms of outcomes to be achieved, not by straitjacketing dutyholders and business into doing things in a particular way according to prescriptive rules - and simply ticking boxes. Our legislation places ownership and responsibility for managing risk where it belongs – it creates a culture where management and workforce need to collaborate to address issues in their workplace and for everyone to be constantly vigilant.

This means that the principles are universally applicable - although the detail will differ - regardless of whether you’re farming, fracking for shale gas, working with nano-materials in an ultra high-tech laboratory or engaged in construction.

This approach has proven itself to be far more effective than a prescriptive rules based alternative. GB’s health and safety performance compared to any other country in the world proves that. It is also a system which is designed to enable growth, and innovation, to take place. Forty years on we have a system which is widely recognised and lauded as world class and which others around the world want to copy.

We are already facing growing demand from other countries that want to learn from us

Sharing our knowledge and expertise with others in other parts of the world makes sense on every level - it is right and proper that we should help to save lives wherever people are put at risk as a result of work activities - but it is also right that we should seek to charge for this and to reinvest this income in maintaining our core purpose here at home.

Remaining first class at what we do here at home is key:

I regard it as an enormous privilege to be the Chair of HSE in this its 40th Anniversary year. I am proud of who we are and what we do and I am looking forward to playing my part in setting HSE on its course for the next 40 years.

Thank you.

Updated 2014-07-18