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Annex 2: The Administrative Burden Measurement Exercise (ABME)

The ABME was a cross-government exercise, carried out in 2005, and was designed to provide an indicative cost of the administrative burden placed on industry through regulations. It estimated the cost to business associated with complying with administrative tasks (form filling, record keeping etc) to calculate an estimated total annual administrative cost of all legislation in force in May 2005.

The ABME estimated the total annual administrative cost of health and safety legislation to be £2.032 billion1, which was accepted as HSE’s baseline figure. Since 2005, HSE’s baseline has been adjusted to take into account discrepancies in the data and the transfer of responsibility for health and safety regulations concerning railways to the Office of Rail and Road2. In addition, following a merger with the Adventure Activities Licensing Authority, administrative costs stemming from legislation in this area have also been added to HSE’s baseline3.

HSE’s revised baseline has been reduced from £2.032 billion to £2.022 billion. HSE’s target reduction of 25% now equates to £505 million from the revised baseline figure.

However, when meeting its reduction target, HSE is taking into account any new administrative costs imposed by new or amending legislation coming into force since May 2005. Any costs from these regulations are to be added to HSE’s reduction target, ensuring that HSE achieves a reduction that is net of new administrative burdens4. A list of these regulations is found at Annex 1.

HSE is committed to working towards reducing administrative burdens by 25%, and therefore is aiming to make a reduction of £505 million from the revised 2005 baseline figure.

The ABME identified ten regulations that account for 77% of HSE’s total annual costs. These are:


Top costing administrative elements

Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999

Risk management and risk assessment

Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998

Landlords’ gas safety check

Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998

Checking and recording examinations of equipment

Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002

Risk assessment

Employee training and maintaining records of training

Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992

Risk assessment

Information to employees

Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974

Health and safety policy statement

Health and safety information to employees

Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2002

Compiling information on emergency arrangements for the emergency services5

Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977

Providing information to safety representatives to enable them to fulfil their functions

Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 1994

Preparing rules for the management of health and safety.

Updating the health and safety file and delivering it to the client on completion of the job

Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998

Checking and recording examinations of equipment

Many of the largest administrative burdens arise because the requirement applying to all businesses, and the actual cost to an individual business is quite small. Other high cost administrative burdens are requirements to provide information to third parties, such as employees. Giving sufficient information to others to help them look after their own health and safety is fundamental to health and safety policy in Great Britain.

On the whole, health and safety regulations are goal-setting, and do not specify a required method for carrying out legal requirements, for example, how to provide information to others, or how and in what format to keep records. The interpretation of the legal requirements (by businesses, advisors, insurers, or others) can sometimes account for high administrative costs in complying, rather than the law itself. Therefore, many of HSE’s initiatives to reduce administrative burdens concern clarifying requirements through guidance, rather than changes to legislation.

HSE is focusing efforts on making a significant difference to business to help them comply with legislation, as well as reducing administrative costs. This includes addressing business irritants, and work on this does not necessarily feed through to a reduction in the administrative burden measured by the ABME. An example of this is joint inspections with other regulators, helping to reduce the time and effort involved for a business.

1 This figure takes into account the removal of “business as usual” costs – costs for activities that businesses would do anyway regardless of legislation.

2 £13.1 million of administrative burdens measured by the ABME for the ACOP on Confined Spaces have been removed due to duplication of costs.

£1.6 million of administrative burdens have been transferred to ORR following the transfer of responsibility for health and safety concerning railways.

3 £5.2 million of administrative burdens have been added to HSE’s baseline following the merger with the Adventure Activities Licensing Authority.

4 By May 2009, approximately £21.6 million of administrative burdens has been added from new legislation.

5 HSE has not directly addressed the high costs of compiling information on emergency arrangements, but has reduced the costs for complying with this regulation for businesses working with textured decorative coatings, as a licence is no longer required.

Updated 2011-12-04