The Daily Telegraph
4 Fore Street
LONDON, EC2Y 5DT
6 February 2006
As the recently arrived (November 2005) Chief Executive of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), I have to say that I find your description of us in Saturday's editorial quite unrecognisable.
None of us at the HSE have any interest in encouraging unnecessary regulation, overenforcement or excessive risk aversion. When I have been out with our inspectors I have always found their approach to be modelled on proportionality and good sense and their sole motivation that of improving standards of safety in the workplace. The truth is that our inspectors lead dedicated but unglamorous lives and have no interest in the kind of aggrandisement of power you suggest.
Moreover HSE, together with the many responsible employers and employees, can claim credit for the reduction in workplace fatalities from around 500 when we were created in 1974 to the present level of some 220 per year. Non-fatal injuries (excluding health, education and workplace public administration) have reduced in the same period from 336,000 to 112,000. These figures however provide no grounds for complacency in a civilised society nor is it the case that proper health and safety protection is in any way damaging to competitiveness. This is not only our view - an independent MORI survey commissioned by us and summarised on our website shows, for example, that 78% of Chief Executive offices and 59% of employers generally believe that health and safety requirements benefit their company as a whole.