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Strategic framework

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:

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:

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:

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:

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.

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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:

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:

1.11 We are developing a series of programmes for our activities in these areas.

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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.

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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.

Major hazards

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.

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Securing compliance

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:

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.

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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;

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.

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How we will work

1.25 We will adopt the following principles for the way we work. We will:

1.26 We will achieve the outcomes through:

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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

Changing patterns of employment

Demographic and labour force developments

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

Technological and social change

Updated 2009-01-06