In 2004, we celebrated 30 years since the Health and Safety at Work etc Act created the Health and Safety Commission (HSC) and Executive (HSE). The anniversary gave us the opportunity to look back and reflect on the major social, economic and technological changes that have taken place since 1974.
The anniversary year itself was eventful. HSC/E emerged, with some credit, from an inquiry by the Work and Pensions Select Committee and a number of government-wide reviews. Most importantly, HM Treasury set a new health and safety Public Service Agreement (PSA) as part of the 2004 Spending Review process. This is a clear demonstration of the Government’s commitment to the HSC Strategy and to our work.
HSC/E is serious about delivering the PSA, and recognises that it will require changes in much of what we do. Those working in HSE have been instrumental in delivering significant health and safety improvements in Great Britain over the last 30 years. The PSA requires us to build on the considerable strengths of our people.
We also recognise that we cannot achieve these goals on our own. We need to build strategic partnerships, not least with local authorities and the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales. By working with colleagues in other parts of Government we can achieve more on a range of shared agendas, from reforming incapacity benefit; through helping the Department of Health take forward the Choosing Health White Paper; to improving the efficiency of the Public Service overall. All are mutually beneficial scenarios.
But while this plan acknowledges the crucial role played by others (e.g. local authorities) it is primarily about the work of HSE. We have overhauled our Strategic Programme structure. HSE now has two key Strategic Delivery Programmes (SDPs), focusing on the main elements of the PSA (major hazards and occupational health and safety). We have also developed four Strategic Enabling Programmes (Enforcement, Local Authority, Business Involvement and Worker Involvement) to implement key elements of the Strategy and support the work of the SDPs.
In addition to the PSA, HSE’s Executive Team has set a target to achieve £50m efficiency savings by 2007/08. To achieve this, we are building on our efficiency plan and establishing a new Efficiency, Economy and Productivity Programme.
HSC/E needs a business plan that reflects its delivery focus. It is therefore with great pleasure that we introduce a document that is quite different from its predecessors. This business plan covers the next three years (2005/06 – 2007/08), to align with the PSA period and encourage a more strategic approach to planning.
We hope you will support the changes that HSC/E plans to make over the next three years. It is only by changing and adapting that we can continue to make a difference. However, underneath all of the changes, HSC/E’s aims and aspirations remain the same as those we held three decades ago. We still want to work with others to protect people’s health and safety by ensuring risks in the workplace are managed properly. We want sensible health and safety to be a cornerstone of civilised society.