Firstly may I wish you all a very happy Christmas and very best wishes for 2008. If next year is anything like 2007, we should have another fascinating 12 months ahead. Looking back over the last 12 months, we have seen many changes in the local authority regulatory landscape.
In March, the Rogers Review reported on the national enforcement priorities for local authority regulatory services. This included workplace health as one of the six priorities. The report also included evidence of how improved health and safety compliance might contribute to the economic sustainability and vitality of local communities. This evidence base will be very useful as local authorities and their strategic partnerships agree their priorities and targets in their community strategies and delivery plans for the next three or so years. The year has seen a continuation in the excellent partnership working between Local Authorities and HSE and this has helped to deliver further reductions in the rates of major and fatal injuries. This could not be achieved without the excellent contribution that all partners, particularly local authorities, have made to improving standards in areas such as dermatitis, falls from a height, vulnerable workers and legionella. However, further progress is still needed to tackle work-related ill health and you will have no doubt read that HSE’s Fit3 programme will continue for a further year to address many of these issues. It is also very welcoming to see examples of projects to reduce work-related stress integrated into Local Area Agreements and other community work plans.
The year also saw the establishment of the Local Better Regulation Office (LBRO) as a government-owned company. Subject to parliamentary agreement, LBRO will be equipped with statutory powers to drive forward the adoption of Hampton approaches by local authority regulatory services to reduce administrative burdens on business. It will be charged with improving the consistency and co-ordination of local authority regulatory services and it has stated its commitment to delivering a world-class system for these services. It is in negotiations with key partners to agree memoranda of understanding and it will shortly commence work to pilot revisions to the lead and home authority partnership arrangements.
The coming year, 2008, also promises further change. The first article in this newsletter highlights a review of the health and safety system for small firms. This is an opportunity for you to share your views with BRE on what small firms really need and like. The Regulatory Enforcement and Sanctions Bill and the better regulation agenda will modernise the regulatory landscape. The HSC’s revised Section 18 standard will come into effect on 1 April for both LAs and HSE’s Field Operations Directorate (FOD) and new and innovative pilots such as flexible warranting and the retail enforcement pilot are continuing.
It will be an exciting time and we look forward to continued partnership working to deliver further health and safety improvements for workers and those affected by work-activity. This work will be taken forward by LAs and HSE in partnership with a range of agencies as part of our commitment to achieving the improved health, work and well-being of our communities.