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Proposals for amendments to the Health and Safety Information for Employees Regulations 1989 (HSIER)

Thank you for responding to the public consultation on the proposals for amending the Health and Safety Information for Employees Regulations 1989.

At its meeting on 26 November, the Health and Safety Executive agreed to recommend to the Government proposals for amendments to the Health and Safety Information for Employees Regulations 1989 (HSIER).

The amendments will enable the Executive to approve and publish new Health and Safety Law posters and leaflets which do not require the addition or updating of information by businesses displaying them, so reducing an unproductive burden, whilst maintaining or improving employees’ access to useful information.

An assessment of the economic impact of the proposed changes shows that the benefits of changing the regulations greatly outweigh the costs - the benefits to business gained through a net reduction in the administrative burden are estimated to be £10.7 million per year.  Due to the difficulties associated with quantifying the health and safety benefits of a redesigned poster, the Impact Assessment focuses on the benefits from a reduction in administrative burden.  This is a departure from normal practice in HSE Impact Assessments but is believed to be justified in this case.

Publication of a new approved poster and leaflet also provides an opportunity to present clear basic information about employees’ health and safety rights and responsibilities, and how to get further help and advice.  With the involvement of trade union and other stakeholder interests, HSE has developed a new version of the poster which will be made the approved poster in April after the amendments to the 1989 regulations come into force.

HSE has worked with the Plain English Campaign to ensure the wording is pitched at an appropriate level.  We are also examining other ways of providing information to employees with visual and/or learning difficulties. This will help ensure all employees understand their right to a safe and healthy workplace and can play their part in ensuring good standards of health and safety.

The amendments also permit employers to continue to display their existing posters or give out existing leaflets for up to 5 years from the date new ones are approved, if they continue to be readable and the information on contacting the enforcing authority and Employment Medical Advisory Service (EMAS) is kept up-to-date.  This offers significantly more flexibility than the previous regulations, which required an updated poster to be purchased and displayed within 9 months.

Just to recap, in the recent consultation respondents were asked:

  1. whether they agreed with the proposal that new approved posters advise workers to contact HSE Infoline to get information on how to contact their enforcing authority and EMAS, and
  2. whether they agreed with the proposal that employers should be able to continue to display an unrevised poster after HSE has approved a new poster, provided the information on it is current and readable.

Overall, 89% of respondents agreed with the first proposal, and 69% agreed with the second proposal.  HSE subsequently modified the second proposal, taking account of the concerns expressed in the consultation that a definite time limit for replacement should be set.  We propose instead that employers will have a period of five years in which to replace existing posters and leaflets. The modification recognises that a new approved poster and leaflet can be expected to benefit both employees and employers (who no longer need to update), and will ensure that these benefits are realised within a reasonable timescale.  A summary of the consultation is set out on the following pages.

January 2009

Updated 2009-05-28