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Overview and progress of the key simplification initiatives

To address the administrative burden of health and safety legislation, and to make a significant difference to business, HSE has focused efforts on:

Ongoing initiatives, which are still underway or which have been completed but are yet to be fully validated prior to publication of this Plan, are:

Initiative Title Summary description Impact on business
Sensible Risk Management – example risk assessments To develop the culture of health and safety at work – providing accessible advice and guidance and encouraging effective risk management through proportionate risk assessment Example Risk Assessments help small businesses think through some of the hazards in their business and identify the steps they need to take to control the risks.
Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations Reviewing the landlords’ gas safety check in line with risk based principles Landlords will be able to get appropriate gas safety guidance in a “one stop shop” on the HSE website.
Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations Producing new guidance to clarify examination of equipment requirements Businesses are clearer about when to examine lifting equipment and fork lift trucks.
The written health and safety policy statement
Electronic risk assessment template
Producing an electronic template for the statement Businesses can now use one electronic form to complete their risk assessment, health and safety policy and record of health and safety arrangements. This will help businesses get started on their risk assessments and will save them time.
Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations Rationalising and improving guidance, making it more accessible and reducing risk assessment costs The new COSHH website, guidance and example risk assessments make it easier for businesses to understand what they have to do to control the risks from chemicals
Business online project Making some key HSE forms available electronically and in an interactive format Businesses will be able to use a range of electronic HSE licence application and notification forms.
Good practice guidance on worker involvement Clarifying requirements on providing health and safety information to safety representatives Businesses can find out easily what they have to do to improve dialogue and cooperation between employers and workers without having to pay for external services
Docks form Removing an outdated form Businesses will not have to certify the safety of a boat that takes dock workers to other ships in the harbour to load and unload the cargo.

Since 2005, HSE has used different methods to reduce the burdens affecting businesses by:

Progress since the 2008 Plan is outlined in more detail below.

Developing example risk assessments

Sensible Risk Management (SRM)

Since the introduction of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, risk assessment and risk management have been underpinning principles of the health and safety legislative regime. Risk assessment and management can be described as assessing and then managing the risks created by a work activity, so far as is reasonably practicable.

The significance of risk assessment and management was underlined in the ABME, which estimated that the requirement to carry out and record a risk assessment in the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations was HSE’s highest single administrative burden: at £600 million, it makes up 29% of the estimated total baseline.

HSE’s SRM campaign, which started in 2006, was designed to improve compliance with risk management by showing that risk assessment does not have to be complicated and bureaucratic. Through the SRM campaign, HSE aimed to reduce costs for compliance with risk assessment requirements by a third - £200 million.

In order to achieve this reduction, HSE focused on its ‘Embedding Sensible Risk Management’ project to make a significant difference to businesses by helping them comply with risk assessment requirements, including those risk assessment requirements arising from other legislation such as, the Manual Handling, Display Screen Equipment and Control of Noise Regulations,

Under this project HSE developed example risk assessments, aimed at helping mainly lower risk and small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) see what a ‘good enough’ risk assessment for their sector looks like, and showing that risk assessment does not need to be complicated.

HSE worked closely in partnership with local authorities and a variety of stakeholders, including individual businesses, trade associations, and unions, in developing the example risk assessments. Since Summer 2008, 34 have now been published as example risk assessment case studies and are available on HSE’s website at The full list is:

Shops Motor Vehicles Office Other
Convenience store / newsagent Motor vehicle repair shop General office cleaning Contract bricklayers
Hairdressing salon Private hire Estate agency Warehouse
Cleaning large retail premises Motor vehicle showroom Office-based business Cold storage and distribution
Butchers Car parking service Travel agent Woodworking
Betting office Road haulage Call centre Poultry farm
Dry cleaners Motor vehicle repair body shop Office work at a manufacturing company Plastering company
Off licence     Village hall
Cleaning a shopping centre concourse     Chilled warehousing
Food preparation and service     Night club
Charity shop     Pub
      Factory maintenance
      Maintenance of flats

The example risk assessments have been well received by businesses of different sectors.

Over the last 12 months, HSE has further developed work carried out in 2008. Key elements have included:

HSE has also used the two year 2008-09 European Campaign on risk assessment as an opportunity to promote the example risk assessments and their low-bureaucracy approach (see Working in Europe for further detail).

HSE’s initial evaluation of the example risk assessments in 2008 took the form of a web-based questionnaire, to find out from businesses how much time they have saved in carrying out a risk assessment having seen an example for their particular sector.

Initial findings of the evaluation showed that 90% of businesses thought that the examples would save them time in carrying out and recording their own risk assessment – an average of 46% of the expected time had the example risk assessments not been available.

This equates to a reduction of the administrative burden by an estimated £235 million. HSE will carry out a further evaluation in 2010 in conjunction with evaluation of the electronic risk assessment template (see below for further detail).

Written health and safety policy statement and electronic risk assessment template

The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 requires employers of five or more employees to have a health and safety policy document in the workplace. This pre-dates a duty under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations to have a written record of health and safety arrangements. HSE decided to tackle what appeared to be unnecessary duplication or confusion about the requirements by producing a more accessible, web-based guidance and simple electronic risk assessment template. 

According to indicative figures from the ABME, the annual administrative cost to businesses for having a written policy statement is £53 million. In 2007, HSE initiated a project designed to reduce administrative costs by up to £26.5 million (half of the estimated cost).

On 1 September 2009, HSE introduced an electronic template for recording a risk assessment, to complement the example risk assessment work under HSE’s Sensible Risk Management campaign. The new template covers the need to have a separate written health and safety policy statement and a record of arrangements. The aim is to save businesses further time in recording their risk assessment, encouraging compliance with the requirement.

The template was launched on HSE’s website on 1 September 2009, for businesses to download and complete drawing on HSE website materials, such as the example risk assessments and other industry specific guidance. HSE’s evaluation will also look at whether the electronic template provides additional savings to businesses in administrative burdens arising from risk assessment alone of up to £27 million.

Providing online or other guidance

Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations

As a result of a high estimated cost shown by the ABME of £236 million, HSE committed to undertake a review of the requirement for an annual check of gas appliances by residential landlords. The high cost is partly due to the large number of such appliances throughout the domestic rented accommodation sector and because this requirement is uniform across all appliances irrespective of age or type – i.e. it applies to all gas appliances in landlord’s residential premises.

In 2006 HSE conducted research to consider whether a risk-based approach to these checks could be developed, but the results suggested a complicated picture and did not provide clear cut options for simplification.

To progress the identification of solutions HSE worked with partners such as local authorities and a range of stakeholders, including landlord associations to develop options for reducing administrative costs, without reducing levels of protection. It was established that the development of a ‘one stop shop’ web portal providing improved access to gas safety guidance and advice would help ease administrative burdens on landlords.

A web tool is currently under development with a trial scheduled for January 2010 with key stakeholders. Following evaluation of the trial full implementation is scheduled for April 2010 in line with the Simplification Plan. Awareness of the tool will be raised through targeted stakeholder communications.

Following implementation, HSE will review the option to develop a parallel web portal focused on providing gas safety guidance and advice for tenants. HSE will seek to engage with key stakeholders through the Office of the Third Sector during this review.

Preparatory work in partnership with Capita (who replaced CORGI on 1 April 2009) through the Gas Safe Register website has already begun in order to meet the timescale for delivery of the simplifications savings by May 2010.

Initial estimates of the potential administrative savings range between £27m and £59m.The estimates are based on the findings of the workshop of landlords' associations and the views of several landlords and a risk communication expert that we engaged to assist us with the project.

Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations – new guidance

This project aims to reduce administrative costs of £144m for the requirement to examine and record the examinations of lifting equipment. In 2006, an investigation into stakeholders’ views was undertaken looking at the complexity of having two sets of regulations (Lifting Operations & Lifting Equipment Regulations and Provision & Use of Work Equipment Regulations); and fitness for purpose.

HSE decided to develop two pieces of guidance designed to provide clarity in examining and recording lifting equipment:

HSE will be evaluating the guidance on thorough examination of lifting equipment via a telephone survey of stakeholders in October/November 2009 and hopes to publish the results by December 2009. The guidance is designed to create a culture change within businesses.

Manual Handling Operations Regulations – additional guidance on labelling the weight of loads

The ABME estimated an annual cost to business of providing information to employees on the weight of a load to be £130 million. To address this high cost, and to help businesses comply with the requirement, HSE produced additional guidance in May 2008 on when it was appropriate to give precise information to employees on the weight of a load.

HSE disseminated the guidance through the Small Business Trade Association Forum, stakeholders’ newsletters, including LG Regulation (formerly LACORS) and the British Frozen Food Federation, and publicised it on HSE’s home webpage. In Spring 2009, HSE ran an online questionnaire to evaluate the administrative savings for businesses that had followed the new advice.

"Additional clarity of best practice and regulation that is readily and easily accessible through electronic/internet access can only be a good thing and therefore a supportive tool to supply chain handlers promoting best practice with suppliers/manufacturers/importers of goods".

Stuart Rainbow - Chairman - Parcel Carriers Safety Association – May 2009

Ninety-one percent of respondents answered that the guidance helped them understand when a load needed labelling. Just under a fifth of respondents reporting time savings reported time savings of between 2 and 10 hours per month. They expected to save between £262.80 and £1,314.00 annually from reduced labelling.

In addition, a quarter of respondents reported cost savings other than time savings. Of those, 9% found the guidance reduced machinery operation costs, 23% said it reduced materials use and 45% gained from increased efficiency.

Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations – guidance on labelling water

According to ABME figures, labelling water under a requirement in the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 cost businesses approximately £33.7 million in administrative costs.

HSE published revised guidance in 2007, outlining that, contrary to what some believed to be the case, only water not fit for drinking needs to be labelled. HSE also highlighted this misunderstanding as the ‘myth of the month’ for December 2007. Through clarifying this requirement on guidance, HSE aimed to reduce administrative burdens by £17 million.

The evaluation of HSE’s guidance by HSE’s Health and Safety Laboratory in 2008 showed that businesses did not unnecessarily label drinking water, and that there was little, if any, business concern or confusion over the requirement. Telephone contact was made with 28 businesses willing to participate in the evaluation, out of a sample of 251. The size of the businesses was mixed - 64% had 1-49 employees - and across a range of sectors. The initial results show that around 80% of businesses do not label drinking water, and those that do label do so for reasons such as putting up braille signs.

However, the evaluation showed good awareness of the guidance and key messages - 60% of those who responded had seen the guidance.

The evaluation suggests that businesses are probably no longer spending £800 on external goods per year to comply with this requirement, as had been previously estimated in the ABME.

Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations

In order to address the high cost of risk assessment under COSHH (estimated by the ABME at £33.5m) and to help employers understand their duties under COSHH, HSE has focused its efforts on making guidance more accessible and easier to understand. This project was expected to produce an administrative burden saving of up to £11.1 million.

Although work slipped from the timetables outlined in previous Simplification Plans due to resource issues; most of the strands of this work have now been delivered:

Health and Safety Information for Employees Regulations

Following a stakeholder proposal, HSE reviewed the requirements in the Health and Safety Information for Employees Regulations for employers to purchase and display the HSE-approved law poster and / or distribute the HSE-approved leaflet.

HSE consulted on proposals in 2008 to amend the regulations to remove the requirement for businesses to write the name and address of their enforcing authority, and the address of the local Employment Medical Advisory Service (EMAS) directly onto the poster, or provide employees with this information in writing along with the leaflet.

Additionally, the period of grace for businesses to purchase a new poster or distribute a new leaflet, following any revisions being made to these documents, was increased from nine months to five years.

HSE also took the opportunity to re-design the poster, to make it more visually appealing and useful to employees in knowing their health and safety rights, particularly ‘vulnerable’ workers whose level of reading English may be poor.

The consultation exercise in 2008 showed broad support for HSE’s proposed changes and HSE amended the legislation in April 2009.

Using ABME estimates, amending these requirements outlined above will save businesses £10.7 million annually through removing the requirement to complete the details as outlined above.

Good practice guidance on worker involvement

HSE produced new combined good practice guidance on the Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations and the Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations in October 2008. The objective was to facilitate better dialogue and co-operation between employers and employees on health and safety matters, and thereby improving health and safety standards at work.

The guidance also aimed to clarify employer requirements on the provision of information to their health and safety representatives: employers only have to provide health and safety information that they already have as part of their health and safety management system, and do not need to provide it in a different format or provide further information.

Clarifying this requirement aims to save businesses an estimated £36.6 million annually, according to the ABME figures. Following publication of the guidance and a high profile launch in October 2008, the guidance was promoted by HSE prior to an assessment of business take up of the guidance and whether the projected savings have been delivered.

HSE expect further promotion of the guidance via planned worker involvement campaigns and at events. Recent HSE initiatives such as providing the guide “Involving your workforce in health and safety: good practice for all workplaces” (HSG263) as a free PDF file in September 2009 will also increase distribution of this material.

Removing outdated forms and requests for data

Forms project

This project implemented one of the recommendations of the Hampton report to remove unnecessary, outdated forms. HSE carried out a forms review and consequently 54% of existing forms were removed by April 2007, without the need to amend legislation, saving businesses £250,000 annually.

A further 9 forms were identified for removal through amending or repealing legislation. In April 2009, HSE removed 8 of these forms by amending the Factories Act 1961 and the Offices, Shops and Railway Premises Act 1963. These Acts included requirements on business to fill out a form to notify HSE or their local authority before employing staff in their premises and keeping registers. HSE considered these requirements to have little current relevance as there were other means of obtaining this information. HSE’s public consultation in Autumn 2008 showed strong support to remove the requirements. This included support from local authorities. Amending legislation came into effect in April 2009, reducing the administrative burden on businesses by £21 million annually.

In April 2009, HSE launched a varied communications package, in order to cascade the changes as widely as possible. This included:

This initiative has helped reduce the administrative burden on business, by removing confusion over registration requirements for employers and by saving time, in preventing the duplication of information already available to HSE and LAs, through other sources

The remaining form required by the Docks Regulations 1988 to certify a dock transport vessel, will be removed after formal consultation with stakeholders with the intention of removing the requirement by April 2010 (see Docks form, below for details).

Business online project

As part of HSE’s implementation of recommendations of the Hampton report, HSE considered making forms required from businesses available in an electronic and interactive format. This was to save businesses time in completing and submitting these forms to HSE or their local authority.

In order to maximise benefits to business, HSE prioritised work on the forms used most by businesses.

In June 2008, the first form to be made available in this format, a construction notification form used over 150,000 times by businesses annually, was launched. This form has been generally well-received by businesses, and has saved them approximately £673,000 according to ABME figures.

HSE was looking at delivering an asbestos notification form in 2009 (over 30,000 completed annually) but this work has been delayed to take into account HSE’s ongoing EASe (Easier Access to Services) Programme. This Programme has been reviewing all of HSE’s public-facing services, outside the areas of enforcement and permissioning, with the aim of improving ways in which customers and duty holders contact HSE.

Docks form

In addition to the 8 forms HSE removed as part of its forms project, HSE’s review of forms (see Forms project, above), also recommended that a further form, required by the Docks Regulations 1988 to certify a dock transport vessel, should be removed.

Preliminary discussions suggested that the docks industry was content to remove this form, which will save businesses in this sector £3.4 million annually according to the ABME. HSE is working with the industry to produce comprehensive new industry guidance, and will then seek to remove the Docks Approved Code of Practice. HSE also plans to remove the legislative requirement for the docks form at the same time – prior to April 2010.

Updated 2011-04-08