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Another busy year ahead

2013 is upon us already and there's no doubt it will be another busy year for us all.

In response to the various reviews of the last two years, HSE has committed to deliver a reform programme, much of which is already in train. We're revoking outdated and duplicated legislation, revising all of our guidance and overhauling our approved codes of practice.

Just as with every other aspect of Britain's health and safety system we need the input of others to ensure that the work we are undertaking results in a suite of information which is fit for purpose and remains as well used and highly regarded as material we have produced in the past.

During the last year there has been a great deal said about the extent to which current regulation and guidance is over-interpreted. This year I suspect the key challenge will be to ensure that the revised regulation and guidance is not misinterpreted. I've already said it several times to various audiences but I'll say it again here - we are making things simpler to understand and easier to do but we are not changing the standards of protection which are required.

We've already made some big strides in providing information in a user friendly way to the many thousands of smaller businesses that form such an important part of the UK's economy, and there is still more to come. If we can make it easier for every business to do what is required we can expect to see levels of compliance increase while the so-called burden of red tape decreases.

Fee for Intervention started towards the end of 2012. In 2013, I hope we will see it having the impact we expect in creating a real incentive for those who choose to avoid/ignore requirements to put their house in order. The challenge for HSE in 2013 will be to clearly demonstrate that FFI is being implemented fairly and proportionately in line with our clearly stated enforcement management model.

I've written in my blog before about the very good interactions I have always seen when I have been out on visits with HSE inspectors. Greater targeting of our work in 2013 will mean that those businesses who perform well and those in lower risk sectors will see considerably less of us. Those sectors where we know the risks are higher will see more targeted interventions aimed at the areas of greatest concern.

This year HSE will also be working with stakeholders to look at what we can all do, in addition to the work that is already ongoing, to tackle occupational disease, including the very considerable burden of occupational cancer highlighted by Lesley Rushton's recent work. Plans are already taking shape for an event involving stakeholders and more details will be made available soon.

By the end of 2013, I am confident that we will have done a great deal to ensure that businesses are in a better place in complying with health and safety in a sensible and proportionate way, leading ultimately to fewer work-related injuries, deaths or cases of ill-health. It should go without saying that we want to see this take place hand-in-hand with an improvement in the economy. That's what really counts - more people in work and more people going home safe at the end of every working day.

My best wishes to you all for a safer and more prosperous 2013.

2014-02-10