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Mandatory activities


5.1 We will continue to deliver policy, technical and information activities needed to meet the mandate given us by statute and Government, in particular we will:

5.2 The range of these outputs reflects the diversity of our business and that health and safety issues are best tackled through a mix of complementary approaches. Those chosen in any particular circumstance will depend the continuity of the hazard (eg are the issues well known so standards can be designed and implemented or is research needed), the structure of the sector or sectors involved, the best way to influence those who take action (eg through information and advice), and other factors.

5.3 We are facing increasing demands in new areas of work, especially on public safety. In some areas there is a duty on HSE to perform certain functions (for example a scheme of approvals). We also have commitments to negotiating on behalf of the UK in the European Union (EU) and in other international contexts. Inevitably priorities have to be established and resources balanced.

5.4 In those areas where we have discretion to make choices, we are developing a framework to help us do so. We cannot work in isolation from society's concerns and so, as well as the risk of harm to individuals, prioritisation of work will involve looking at the extent of societal concerns. To do this, our framework will need to take account of such matters as the nature of the hazard and its associated risks, our ability to intervene effectively (ie what we can realistically do that will have an impact), the extent of public or other stakeholder interest, and the expectations of our stakeholders.

Work to modernise and simplify the regulatory framework

5. 5 We will continue to modernise and simplify the regulatory framework here action is needed over the long term.

Safety Bill

5.6 We will provide contributions to DTLR in the preparation of the proposed new primary legislation dealing with safety and transport. 

Long term policy programmes

5.7 We are implementing a number of long term programmes to bring about significant improvements in health and safety. We have challenging targets for these improvements. We will be working with government bodies and other stakeholders, and undertaking research, in line with our science and innovation strategy, to achieve these targets. Details of the programmes are listed in Table 5.1.

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Policy projects

5.8 In Europe and internationally we will continue to play an active and constructive role, negotiating to ensure consistency and proportionality in legislation, and to achieve improvements where these are justified by risk, promote better standards across Europe and do not have unacceptable consequences for UK industry and the legal framework. We will seek to focus strategies on better practical implementation of existing law, and performance across Member States. We will seek to share information and experience with, and learn from, our partners in other Member States and the Applicant Countries via joint working, bilateral contacts and funded projects. We will seek to emphasise the contribution of good health and safety to both competitiveness and employability. We will take a full part in the work of the international institutions: the European Commission's advisory and labour inspection committees and sub groups; the European Agency; standards-making and liaison bodies on railways, nuclear safety, offshore; and input to the work of the ILO, UN, IAEA, OECD and WHO. A list of significant European and international projects is given at Annex 1.

5.9 We will prepare regulatory impact assessments for all legislative proposals with a likely impact on business, charities or the voluntary sector. The assessments will ensure that the available information is analysed and presented in a systematic way and that the regulatory process is open and transparent. By doing so we will be able to judge the efficacy and the cost effectiveness of proposals.

5.10 Further information about our legislative programme is in Annex 1. Within the portfolio of projects there are a number of substantial programmes. Examples of other policy projects are listed in table 5.2.

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Links with economic and other regulators

5.11 We are planning to develop HSC\E's relations with economic regulators in the privatised utility companies (electricity, gas, water) so that the economic and health and safety regulators are not working at cross purposes.

5.12 The role of economic regulators either has been (gas and electricity) or will be (water) revised. As economic regulators seek greater efficiency and lower prices to customers there is a possibility that such pressures could reduce the capacity of companies to address health and safety concerns. Also as competition is developed we need to ensure that adequate controls are in place to manage health and safety.

5.13 We will ensure the work of HSC\E and the economic regulators is co-ordinated and we co-operate to ensure that as competition is rolled out in these industries suitable mechanisms are in place to minimise risk to health and safety.

5.14 We will work closely with the two other regulators involved in the railways industry, the SRA and the ORR. We will also develop and maintain our joined up activity with other regulators, the EA, SEPA, the MCA and the CAA.

Work to provide information and advice to improve the knowledge of health and safety

5.15 Our statutory functions include the provision of information and advice on health and safety issues. The forthcoming Freedom of Information Act (FOI) will add a duty to provide information on all aspects of our business. Effective communication will ensure we reach a diverse audience and that we are successful at winning and retaining public confidence as an authoritative and independent expert body. Planning, managing and evaluating communications and producing high quality information products are therefore vital to our overall effectiveness.

5.16 The FOI is expected to come into force for Government bodies in mid 2002, giving citizens rights of access to information and imposing an enforceable code of practice on information management. The Data Protection Act is already partly in force but will come more fully into force in October 2001 and, in mid 2002, FOI will extend its scope to cover more data. HSE will work to put in place systems to ensure compliance with the existing and new legislation in the most cost-effective and co-ordinated way and in accordance with its own policies, which set a presumption of maximum openness.

5.17 In our programme to provide appropriate information and advice we will:

5.18 We will review, revise and develop new guidance documents, applying the skills and expertise of HSE's policy, technical and operational staff to ensure the information is useful and correctly targeted. We will actively seek and take on board the views of stakeholders, especially those of small firms, to ensure the needs of audiences are met, and that we deliver the right message in the right way to the right people.

5.19 Table 5.3 lists some examples of the publicity campaigns and guidance projects we have planned.

Table 5.3 Publicity campaigns and guidance projects planned

Publicity campaigns
  • Gas safety (carbon monoxide poisoning)
  • Child safety (agriculture)
  • Working Well Together (construction)
  • The Killing Fields (agriculture)
  • National stress awareness day
  • Management of asbestos in buildings
  • Manual handling
  • European Week of Safety and Health
  • Back Care Week and Back in Work
  • Work related stress
  • Musculoskeletal disorders
  • Display Screen Equipment Regulations
  • Biological agents
  • Electrical safety
  • Home care workers
  • Protection of workers against Ultra Violet light
  • Shift working

5.20 We gather, interpret and publish safety, enforcement and ill health statistics in Health and Safety Statistics and in the HSC Annual Report and Accounts. We will make information available at the half year and three-quarter year stages. This is an important part of our commitment to open government and to improving access to our information.

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Work to promote risk assessment and technical knowledge

5.21 Our Science and Technology mission statement records that we develop and apply science and technology to provide a sound independent knowledge base to evaluate the risks to people's health and safety from work activities and the means to assess and control these risks in order to help achieve our objectives.

5.22 HSE annually spends about 15% of its grant in aid on commissioned science and technology, around half on research and the other half on reactive work. We plan to spend £33.6 m (£28.6 m in resource terms) under the mainstream programme in 2001/02, and similar amounts in 2002/03 and 2003/04. For years 2001/02 to 2003/04 there is a consistent planned spend in occupational health and engineering hazards and an increased spend in behavioural and social sciences to meet the priority targets for health and safety.

5.23 Our science and technology programmes are drawn up to meet policy and operational requirements, both to meet our priority targets and also to support work within our mandatory activities. Our Science and Innovation Strategy, to be published in April 2001, will build on the existing strengths of the programmes in terms of flexibility in response to organisational needs, whilst making more transparent and direct the links with the targets set out in this Plan. This strategy will itself be developed in the light of experience, taking into account the views of stakeholders.

5.24 We will use our science and technology resources for:

5.25 The research programme is a rolling programme and we will ensure that the programme is administered efficiently and effectively. Planned work for 2001/02 and beyond will include projects to:

5.26 All HSE research is procured in a rigorous competitive environment and a substantial amount is placed with a wide range of external suppliers. HSE's in-house agency, the Health and Safety Laboratory (HSL) also undertakes research to enhance and add value to its primary role, which is to provide casework support, evaluations of risk assessment methodologies and assessment of technical standards etc, and forensic support - investigation of incidents which may require research and intelligence activities. For example, significant work was done to support the investigation into the Ladbroke Grove fatal train crash. To secure access to expertise beyond the core capabilities of HSL, a Framework Technical Support Agreement (with an indicative spend of around £2M pa) has also been established with five external contractors.

Science and innovation strategy

5.27 We will work closely with stakeholders to deliver our high level targets, building on existing links to identify gaps in scientific understanding, to share knowledge and to undertake collaborative projects. We will work with other departments to identify issues of common interest, thereby meeting one of the key recommendations of the Phillips BSE Inquiry Report. In formulating our research programmes, we will place an even higher priority on research partnerships.

5.28 We are committed to policies based on the best available scientific advice and to the maximum openness and transparency in our funded research in line with the Chief Scientific Adviser's Guidelines 2000. All research results will be placed in full and free of charge on the HSE Website.

5.29 The Phillips BSE Inquiry Report highlighted HSC/E's part in the tragic events surrounding BSE. HSE has contributed to the Government's initial response setting out how we will implement the relevant findings of the report. HSC's concerns revolve around cross cutting issues such as risk perception, use of science by government departments and agencies and Advisory Committees. We will respond with our proposals on these issues in due course.

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Risk assessment management and education

5.30 We will promote greater consistency, coherence and understanding on risk assessment and related issues. Decision-making on the basis of risk is a fundamental aspect of our regulatory activities. It is important that we approach such decision-making in a way which ensures that we meet the principles of good regulation ie proportionality, consistency, transparency, targeting and accountability.

5.31 We will promote:

5.32 We expect those activities to:

5.33 We will work with others both within and outside HSE to:

5.34 We will produce:

Advisory committees

5.35 HSC has set up a number of advisory committees. Industry Advisory Committees (IACs) are each concerned with health and safety in a particular industry, eg construction. Subject Advisory Committees (SACs) are concerned with particular hazards, eg dangerous pathogens which might be present across different industry sectors.

5.36 The committees draw on the expertise and advice available from a balance of employer and employee representatives and, where appropriate, technological and professional experts and consumer interest representatives. They encourage the joint participation of all concerned in the improvement of health and safety at work.

5.37 The environment within which these committees operate has changed with time,and whilst the HSC values greatly the work of the committees it does believe there is scope for the committees to do more. We are presently carrying out a review of how the committees function and the work they carry out.

5.38 The expertise and knowledge of HSE staff is much valued on advisory committees which come under the responsibility of other Government departments and agencies, for example the Expert Advisory Committee on AIDS. We will continue to support this work.

Statutory schemes

5.39 In some key areas of risk we will continue to operate statutory assessment or approval schemes aimed at ensuring product safety before supply.

Chemical product safety

5.40 The HSE is part, or the whole, of the UK Competent Authority or the relevant UK regulatory authority for several international programmes on chemicals and their potential effect on health, safety and the environment. Some programmes, eg under the Notification of New Substances and Existing Substances Regulations, place prescriptive legal duties on HSE. Most of these programmes operate on the supply side, establishing a regulatory regime for industrial chemicals at their point of supply which then guides the risk management of the chemical as it moves through the supply chain.

Pesticides approval

5.41 Pesticides can present high risks to humans, (particularly the worker) and the environment. They warrant a statutory approval scheme. HSE carries out the technical appraisal of all aspects of non-agricultural pesticides and contributes to the occupational risk assessment of agricultural pesticides.

Employment Medical Advisory Service (EMAS)

5.42 EMAS continues to provide statutory clinical assessment and medical surveillance of workers exposed to specific hazards such as lead, asbestos and diving.

Electrical Equipment Certification Service (EECS)

5.43 EECS provides a service for examination and testing of products and the assessment and auditing of the manufacture of the products. The programme is overseen by an advisory body including representatives from stakeholders including manufacturers, users and regulatory authorities.

Table 5.4 Selected outputs from statutory schemes

Jobs completed by EECS 1058 1050 1104 1091 1096
Pesticides approvals 169 210 210 210 210
Notification of new substances 192 120 200 190 190
Updated 2015-09-14