In addition to the work on reducing administrative burdens, HSE is also committed to the wider better regulation agenda, for example, implementing the recommendations of the Hampton report. Working to the Hampton agenda impacts positively on HSE’s relationship with those it regulates 1and helps HSE to achieve its regulatory outcomes in a way that minimises burdens on businesses.
Hampton Implementation Review (HIR)
In 2007, HSE was reviewed on its implementation of the recommendations in the Hampton report. HSE’s Hampton Implementation Review (HIR) was carried out by officials from BRE, the National Audit Office, the Office of Fair Trading and LG Regulation (formerly LACORS). HSE’s HIR report, published in March 2008, commented positively on many aspects of HSE’s performance as a regulator, recognising that HSE is transparent and accountable and that it aims to minimise the burden of regulation on business whilst maintaining health and safety standards.
The report also identified a few key issues for HSE to address, including:
HSE’s current approach to improving the influence of advice and guidance is set out in the new HSE Strategy, and is integral to the SME strategy goal to adapt and customise approaches to help the increasing numbers of SMEs in different sectors comply with their health and safety obligations.
In addition to addressing the key issues for improvement, HSE has continued to work on initiatives that support the recommendations of the Hampton report. HSE’s work in these areas is outlined below.
HSE has continued to use a range of internal and external tools to embed better regulation principles when developing policies and legislation. These include:
HSE’s HIR noted that HSE puts a lot of emphasis on providing advice and guidance through a variety of methods. HSE remains committed to the Government’s “Think Small First” policy, which aims to ensure that all guidance is written with small businesses in mind.
Alongside local authorities, HSE is responsible for enforcing health and safety legislation in Great Britain. HSE continues to work to the regulatory principles set out in its Enforcement Policy Statement (EPS), which states that enforcement decisions must be targeted, transparent, proportionate, consistent and accountable, and the Regulators’ Compliance Code. The Code applies when regulators determine their general policies or principles about how they exercise their regulatory functions, and when they set standards or give general guidance. HSE was already following best practice principles which were subsequently mirrored in the Code.
HSE has published a statement on its website outlining how it complies with the Code.
HSE has continued to develop its joint working with other regulators, especially local authorities, as part of its commitment to being a modern regulator. Working with other regulators can be highly beneficial for businesses, through saving time from duplication of efforts for inspections and experiencing a consistent, joined-up approach. Recent examples include:
Examples of joint initiatives with the Local Better Regulation Office (LBRO) and in partnership with local authorities include:
HSE is committed to reducing and simplifying the data it requires from business. This includes work such as HSE’s forms project, which has already removed 54% of forms with work being taken forward to remove a further 9 forms.
HSE’s Business On-line project also aims to make HSE’s external forms electronic and interactive, savings businesses time in completing and submitting these forms.
HSE’s HIR report noted that HSE has developed tools and policies that encourage a consistent approach to enforcement, as outlined above on the Enforcement Policy Statement. The report noted, however, that in terms of an effective sanctioning regime for health and safety, levels of fines for offences are low.
However, the Health and Safety (Offences) Act 20082, which came into force on 16 January 2009, should lead to an increase in levels of fines in the courts. The new Act raises the maximum penalties for health and safety offences in the lower courts and broadens the range of offences for which an individual can be imprisoned in both the lower and higher courts. This should lead to a more effective sanctioning regime for health and safety, with tougher, more commensurate punishment of health and safety offences; more effective deterrents against regulatory non-compliance; and greater efficiency in the dispensation of justice contributing to the wider Government criminal justice agenda.
The Macrory review3 examined ways to improve compliance among businesses. HSE and local authorities are continuing to explore the potential for using alternative penalties to deal with health and safety offences. Businesses who are already complying with health and safety regulation continue to be concerned about those ‘rogue’ businesses that appear to avoid proportionate sanctions from regulators.
As well as working to the Hampton agenda, HSE is also working with other government departments to simplify requirements and produce a joined-up approach. Work in this area is outlined below:
This Group is progressing work on establishing the “Safety in Procurement Ltd” company, to provide the means for formally managing the aim of the Forum to "facilitate mutual recognition between health and safety prequalification schemes wherever it is practicable to do so". A staged launch took place in April 2009. The overall aim is to simplify the pre-qualification process for SMEs through reducing paperwork and duplication of efforts.
HSE is working with DWP Extending Working Life Division and a number of stakeholders to produce good practice guidance on risk assessment and ageing. The objective is to help employers and employees understand what simple reasonable adjustments can be made to enable older workers to continue working, thereby improving health and safety standards at work. Following publication of the guidance in early 2010, the guidance will be jointly promoted by HSE and DWP at a number of events in addition to via the internet. A variety of formats will be published including hard copy guidance, desk cards and web pages. HSE will monitor to establish if businesses are aware of the guidance and have taken reasonable steps to implement reasonable adjustments.
2 Health and Safety (Offences) Act 2008 c.20 (see http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2008/20/contents)