- Goals and targets
- Securing Health Together
- Public health and safety
- Action in priority areas
- Major hazards
- Securing compliance
- Our mandatory functions
- Outcomes targets and resources
- How we will work
- A changing world
The Health and Safety Commission (HSC) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) were established under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSW Act). Their prime responsibility is to make arrangements to secure the health, safety and welfare of people at work and the general public. HSC/E have the following general responsibilities to:
- modernise and simplify the regulatory framework;
- secure compliance with the law (this is shared with Local Authorities);
- provide appropriate information and advice;
- promote risk assessment and technical knowledge; and
- operate statutory schemes.
Goals and targets
1.1 Our mission is to ensure that risks to people's health and safety from work activities are properly controlled. This means reducing risks, and protecting people. This covers the health and safety of both workers and the public.
1.2 Our goals are to:
- continue reducing injury rates and work related ill health, and consequent days lost from work;
- continue improving the working environment; and
- prevent major incidents with catastrophic consequences occurring in high hazard industries.
1.3 These goals are reflected in the national targets for health and safety agreed by the HSC and the Government, and set out in the Revitalising Health and Safety Strategy Statement (RHS). The targets were published in June 2000 and are to:
- reduce the number of working days lost per 100 000 workers from work related injury and ill health by 30% by 2010;
- reduce the incidence rate of fatal and major injury incidents by 10% by 2010;
- reduce the incidence rate of cases of work related ill health by 20% by 2010; and
- achieve half the improvement under each target by 2004.
Ensuring delivery of these national targets underpins the priorities and programmes described in the Plan.
1.4 Achieving half the improvement by 2004 is one of the targets in the then Department of the Environment, Transport and Regions' (DETR) Public Service Agreement which was published following the Government's Spending Review 2000.
1.5 The national targets have been set to:
- give new impetus to health and safety improvement;
- prompt new approaches to reduce injuries and ill health caused by work, especially approaches relevant to small firms;
- ensure that our approach to health and safety regulation remains relevant for the changing world of work; and
- encourage maximum benefits to be gained from links between occupational health and safety and other government programmes.
1.6 In addition to the national targets, the Government and the Commission agreed a broad ten point strategy for the next ten years, and 44 specific Action Points. The Plan sets out what the Commission is doing to deliver the action points for which it is responsible.
Securing Health Together
1.7 In July 2000, the Commission, Government and other stakeholders launched a long term strategy to improve occupational health, Securing Health Together. This forms a central plank of the Revitalising Health and Safety Strategy Statement. It commits HSC/E, Government and local authorities working together with other stakeholders, to achieve both the health related targets set out in Revitalising Health and Safety (paragraph 1.3) and the following additional targets by 2010:
- a 20% reduction in ill health to members of the public caused by work activity;
- everyone currently in employment but off work due to ill health or disability is, where necessary and appropriate, made aware of opportunities for rehabilitation back into work as soon as possible; and
- everyone currently not in employment due to ill health or disability is, where necessary and appropriate, made aware of and offered opportunities to prepare for and find work.
1.8 Changing the culture to achieve improvements in occupational health requires action now, the benefits will only be accrued over the longer term, The targets for occupational ill health are challenging due to difficulties of collecting robust data, the overlap between work and life causes and the long latency of some ill health problems. In the short term we will be working with partners and concentrating on developing action plans and establishing the infrastructure to deliver the strategy. We have identified two areas for immediate, priority action - musculoskeletal disorders and stress - because these are the biggest causes of work related ill health.
1.9 Achieving all these targets requires the involvement of HSC, HSE, local authorities and others in Government, employers and the employed, and the health and safety community as a whole.
1.10 Our contribution to achieving the targets will involve:
- taking action in priority areas where significant improvements in health and safety are needed now if the targets are to be met;
- ensuring an effective regulatory regime in the major hazards sectors, regulating the major hazards sectors (nuclear, railways, offshore, onshore gas, pipelines, explosives and chemical installations covered by the Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH) Regulations and mining industries) remains a critical activity for HSC/E;
- securing compliance with the law; and
- meeting the mandate given us by statute and Government to modernise and simplify the regulatory framework, provide appropriate information and advice, promote risk assessment and technical knowledge, and operate statutory schemes.
1.11 We are developing a series of programmes for our activities in these areas.
Public health and safety
1.12 The targets for health and safety set out in Revitalising Health and Safety relate to risks to workers. The work we are proposing to do in the Plan will also contribute to reducing the numbers of members of the public suffering injuries and ill health from work activities. In particular the target in Securing Health Together on reducing ill health in members of the public caused by work activity should help focus effort.
1.13 Our work in the major hazards industries concentrates on the prevention of major incidents which may affect members of the public as well as workers. Some of the work we undertake to secure compliance with legislation addresses the risks to members of the public, for example from legionella, domestic gas installations and fairgrounds. The work carried out under the priority programmes will also reduce the risks to members of the public in areas such as construction, health services and slips and trips. We will continue to review and improve the regulatory framework in a way which addresses the risks to the public.
Action in priority areas
1.14 We have selected eight priority programmes. These focus on hazards or sectors where improvements are vital if the targets are to be met. In selecting these priorities we aim to tackle those hazards and sectors where large numbers are employed, the incidence rate of injuries or ill health is high and where we have the levers to bring about change and success. Details of the work we are planning to do and the outcomes we are planning to achieve can be found in the Priority Programmes Section.
1.15 Much of HSE's work is about the management of health and safety in high hazard industries and the control of major hazard events That is the prevention of major incidents where the health and safety of many people, whether workers or members of the public, is affected.
1.16 The Plan describes the work we will do in sectors where the control of major hazards is critical, for example, railways, gas conveyance and onshore major hazard pipelines, chemical installations covered by the Control of Major Hazards Regulations (COMAH), explosives and the Mining, offshore and nuclear industries. These industries are regulated by regimes based on safety cases prepared by the duty holder and assessed by HSE. This work, which is resource-intensive, is essential to maintain public confidence. Openness in our activities is essential to this public confidence. The Plan sets out specific outcomes for these sectors.
1.17 Securing compliance underpins and complements all our other work. The HSE and local authorities are required under the HSW Act to make adequate arrangements to enforce health and safety law. HSE will continue to undertake programmes of preventive inspections, investigations of incidents and complaints and formal enforcement work. HSE will be taking forward specific campaigns in certain areas focused on improving compliance. The Plan sets out the broad balance we believe is appropriate between preventive and reactive work.
1.18 Local authorities enforce health and safety legislation in many workplaces. They operate within a framework of HSC guidance and in close co-operation with HSE. The Health and Safety Executive and Local Authorities Liaison Committee (HELA) is developing an Action Plan to implement Revitalising Health and Safety for local authorities.
Our mandatory functions
1.19 As well as being required to enforce health and safety law, HSC/E have been tasked by Government to:
- modernise and simplify the regulatory framework;
- provide appropriate information and advice;
- promote risk assessment and technical knowledge; and
- operate statutory schemes.
1.20 Much of this work is driven by the need to implement obligations agreed with the European Union or other international bodies. Much arises from public concern, which can arise suddenly and in response to specific events, for changes to the law or the development of new standards. We also have the overriding statutory responsibility for administering the HSW Act which means we have to establish and maintain capabilities to provide, for example, information services and undertake research.
Outcomes, targets and resources
1.21 It is vital to break down the national targets to specific outcomes. These provide a focus for all stakeholders to identify the contributions they can make. We are keen to agree outcomes with stakeholders.
1.22 HSE is committed to achieving targets agreed with Ministers in the 1998 Comprehensive Spending Review. These are to achieve in 2001/02: 200 000 regulatory contacts;
- 35 000 investigations of incidents and complaints;
- a 3% efficiency gain; and
- maximum 8% of HSE payroll costs to be spent on central service functions.
1.23 The Plan describes the range of outcome and output targets.
1.24 The Commission received a three-year budget settlement from the Government for the years 2001/2 - 2003/4. Under Resource Accounting and Budgeting we have to show how resources are allocated against objectives.
How we will work
1.25 We will adopt the following principles for the way we work. We will:
- work in close collaboration with stakeholders, looking actively to increase their engagement and promote full participation in improving health and safety;
- be transparent and open about what we do, why and how, sharing what we know with others;
- work to develop new relationships with those stakeholders who we have not traditionally reached, to secure their engagement and participation in improving health and safety;
- promote partnerships both between the enforcing authorities and stakeholders and between employees and employers to develop and disseminate good practices which improve standards of health and safety;
- pay particular attention to the needs of small firms and vulnerable groups, including ethnic minorities, women and people with disabilities in developing our programmes;
- ensure that our actions are consistent, proportionate, targeted and transparent;
- take action on the basis of sound evidence about health and safety problems and the costs and benefits involved; and
- monitor and evaluate our programmes to learn from what we can find; ensure value for money and to assist in the benchmarking of future programmes.
1.26 We will achieve the outcomes through:
- improving the law and compliance with it - a vigorous approach to enforcement to promote compliance and address shortcomings by duty holders is essential. But we must also develop the regulatory framework and ensure regulations are proportionate and easy to understand, especially by small firms;
- promoting continuous improvement - we must engage key intermediaries and stakeholders to achieve a cultural change in the health and safety system. In particular we must develop an expectation of compliance and continuous improvement that involves dedicated partnership between those who create, manage and are exposed to risk;
- conducting research and developing our knowledge where this is needed - the development of improved intelligence on health and safety performance and establishing suitable baselines is necessary for progressing towards our targets;
- ensuring the necessary skills and competencies are in place - increasing the competence of employers, employees and the self employed to manage health and safety is vital but we must also ensure all others who have part to play have the necessary skills and understanding to deliver improvements in health and safety; and
- ensuring that appropriate support and advice mechanisms are in place - we must develop and promulgate guidance that is clear and easy to understand, up to date and, in particular, meets the needs of small firms. We must also have in place effective support systems which will ensure the improvements we achieve are sustained.
1.27 In developing this plan, for both the overall structure and also the detailed programmes, we have worked with stakeholders. We will continue to work with them, in particular the HSC's Industry and Subject Advisory Groups, to further develop the programme plans.
1.28 During the life of this plan we will be actively undertaking further discussions on the collective strategy to improve standards of health and safety. We are conscious that we are not reaching everyone we need to in the changing world of work. We will be targeting our efforts to those groups who have not traditionally been involved, ethnic minorities, small businesses, contractors and sub contractors, mobile workers, part time workers and many others.
A changing world
1.29 The environment in which we operate continues to change and develop. Our long-term strategy must be responsive to these changes and ensure that we are prepared for the new hazards and risks these might bring. We must also be ready to take advantage of and promote new opportunities for managing risks that may arise.
Continued shift in favour of services
- The overall outlook is for continued job losses in primary, manufacturing and utility sectors. The main job increases are in services including: retailing, banking, insurance and business services and especially in tourism, and hotels and catering.
- The slow shift in occupational structure towards white-collar non manual and managerial and professional jobs is expected to continue, largely at the expense of manual skills associated with manufacturing.
- The shift in employment away from industries with traditionally high risks, to lower-risk service industries has been a significant factor behind the long-term decline in overall accident rates. But risky occupations can be found across all industry, and there is not expected to be a strong decline in these. Further significant reductions in the overall number of accidents will require more specific strategies to tackle hazards and risks.
Changing patterns of employment
- Numbers of self employed showed a general upward trend between 1993 and 1997, increasing from 3.19 million to 3.36 million. However the last two years has seen a fall in numbers of the self employed to a level in 1999 which was below that of 1992.
- Small business (fewer than 50 employees) numbers have remained fairly level at about 3.5 million over the last four years and continue to account for about 98% of all enterprises. Total employee numbers in small firms are around 9.5 million, representing about 37.4% of the total workforce.
- Continuing outsourcing and contractorisation and the close working relationships many small business have with larger firms as contractors and suppliers raises issues of transfer of risk from large to small and places a premium on effective systems for managing health and safety and for ensuring an informed relationship between partners.
Demographic and labour force developments
- The significant increase in the number of women employed in the labour force is set to continue. Forecasts suggest that the proportion will gradually rise from 45.8% (1999) to 46.1% by 2011. Economic activity rates for women are also projected to reach 75.4% by 2011 (from 72% in 1997).
- Ethnic minority population of the United Kingdom (UK), excluding Irish, is projected to rise from 6.5% in 1998 to 10% in 2020. Ethnic minorities have become disproportionately represented in new business start-ups (9% in 1997). This trend is projected to continue.
- The demographic shift towards an older labour force (people available for work) is well documented. For instance the percentage of total labour force aged 45-54 increased from 18.3% in 1990 to 21.8% in 1997. This trend is likely to continue. The incidence of disability rises significantly over the age of 45.
1.30 The trend to fragmentation in industry and towards the growth in small and medium sized firms are structural changes identified in HSC's first Strategic Plan published in 1999. To continue to meet these changes effectively HSE must be a team player working in close partnership with local authorities and with others in the system. We must be sensitive to the needs of small firms and of ethnic minorities. We must employ new approaches to reach these groups; the self-employed; and particularly vulnerable groups of workers, especially those with disabilities.
Health at work
- A major future challenge lies in the area of occupational health. We see an increasing interest and debate on this, often focused on ill health related to stress, including depression and anxiety.
- HSE's 1995 survey of self-reported work-related illness suggests that around 2 million people in Great Britain suffered from an illness which they believe was caused or made worse by work. Musculoskeletal disorders and particularly back pain are the most commonly reported work-related illness.
- Occupational Health must also embrace job retention for people absent from work due to sickness or disability and, where appropriate, rehabilitating back to work people who are unemployed due to sickness or disability.
- It can be difficult to know what the relevant contribution of work, home life and leisure is to ill-health which is reported as work-related. A new approach to tackling this major problem has been provided by Securing Health Together, the occupational health strategy for Great Britain. This is the foundation for future action, based on partnership between interested parties and a wide view of occupational health.
- Securing Health Together will be concerned not only with current problems, but also with new concerns and risks, which may arise from the continued shift towards non-manual occupations and service industries, together with the impact of new technology, and different working patterns.
Technological and social change
- We expect technological change to continue at a rapid pace. Competitive pressures within the UK, and internationally, will reduce the time in which new technologies are developed and brought onto the market, for instance in biotechnology. Changes in automation, computer and information technology and communications will impact on workplace equipment and processes but also on wider working and leisure patterns and practice.
- Computer based design and modelling will continue to expand compared with the traditional build, pilot and "test to destruction" approach. Novel constructions and structural materials will be introduced which have no track record. New materials, and new processes based around nanotechnology, miniaturisation and sustainability will increasingly be transferring directly from the laboratory to industry and commerce.
- Recycling, brownfield site development, and a greater push towards decommissioning, decontamination and reclamation generally will challenge regulators, duty holders and the public alike.
- Public concern over and expectations of, health and safety standards can be expected to rise over time, as more information becomes available, real incomes rise and the quality of life improves. There is a continuing focus on openness in dealings with industry and the public.
- The public have become increasingly sceptical of advice from scientific experts, independent advisers and others in authority. This poses challenges for the regulator who needs to maintain or win public understanding to be effective.