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HSE responds to Quality World letter - "Crazy Safety Culture"

01 October 2010

Dear Editor

I read with some dismay Anthony Taylor's letter entitled (September 2010).

HSE was not set up as an 'adversarial enforcement agency' as he suggests, but to prevent death, injury and ill health in Britain's workplaces. We do this through a diverse approach which not only includes enforcement action, but also inspection, information and advice. We are extremely proud of our website, which is a free source of health and safety guidance and is popular around the world, receiving 26 million hits a year. Our Board members represent employers, trade unions and other bodies, and work cooperatively together to guide HSE. Survey after survey has confirmed that organisations across Great Britain approve of the job we do and the way we do it.

Prosecuting those who break the law is an important part of HSE's work, but not the end of it. We also carry out extensive work with businesses, workers and third party organisations to try to prevent incidents from happening in the first place. This includes encouraging healthier and safer workplaces through Safety and Health Awareness Days and consulting with businesses to produce sensible, relevant guidance which meets their needs while not being burdensome.

HSE seeks to enforce health and safety law to protect workers and the public, no matter what the size of the business. We target our enforcement towards those who expose people to serious risk and we seek to bring serious cases to court where it is in the public interest to do so. Most prosecutions follow a death or serious injury or illness that could and should have been prevented. HSE looks to secure justice by holding those who break the law to account, and the suggestion that we take such serious action to protect our own reputation is unwarranted.

We strongly support Lord Young's review and have been working positively with his team.

Yours faithfully

David Ashton
Director of Field Operations
Health and Safety Executive

Updated 2012-01-13