When people are harmed by work it leads to pain and suffering for individuals and their families, disruption and damaged reputations for companies and costs to the whole economy that make businesses, and Britain, less competitive.
Nobody wants that to happen and, more importantly, we cannot afford it to happen. It is vital that everyone is able to play their part in keeping Britain’s economy running as effectively and efficiently as possible.
I was inspired to hear through the strategy road shows about businesses – large and small – that know effective health and safety management allows innovation, enhances productivity and enables growth. They are exemplars for everyone in the health and safety system.
That’s why this new system strategy has my full backing. It will help ensure Great Britain maintains its world-class health and safety record, whilst also maximising the wider benefits that the system can bring.
Tackling workplace ill health is rightly a key theme. Some 23 million working days are lost each year because of it. Individuals, employers and the state incur an annual cost of around £9 billion from ill health due to today’s working conditions. So reducing workplace ill health is a must for Britain’s well-being and prosperity.
Another key theme in the strategy is ensuring that businesses – especially SMEs – know how to take the right actions easily and efficiently. Legislation and guidance have already been simplified but more needs to be done, and the strategy sets out how.
I was impressed with the energy and drive that has gone into creating the new strategy, involving stakeholders at events held around Great Britain and discussions over social media. It is now vital that the impetus is maintained and that the theme on ownership is taken up by everyone in the system – whatever your role, you have an active part to play in delivering on the strategy’s potential. If that happens, we really will all be helping Great Britain to work well.
Justin Tomlinson MP
Minister for Disabled People (covering HSE)
I want to thank all those who have participated so far in our Helping Great Britain work well engagement programme and the vital discussions we had about the new strategy for Great Britain’s occupational health and safety system.
The conversations we have had during the first two months of 2016 have made it clear that we have strong support for all of the themes in the new strategy. We have spoken to hundreds of people directly and reached millions more through social media. But what we have seen is more than just ’support’, there is a huge amount of energy and a desire to get involved in driving improvement in all parts of the system. This gives us every confidence that we can maintain our health and safety record as one of the best there is. Now we need to move forward at pace.
There is broad agreement among those with whom we have engaged that preventing harm to workers and the public is integral to businesses being successful and achieving sustained growth. Our collective challenge is to ensure that this is known, understood and becomes embedded firmly in everyone’s thinking – and in all of our actions.
The principles of our system are sound and have stood the test of time:
Too much complexity and bureaucracy has built up around health and safety. We heard many people say that we already have the knowledge to make the themes of the strategy a reality. The message that this is about being smarter – not simply doing more – resonated with our audiences. By keeping things as simple and straightforward as possible we can ensure that all businesses see this as enabling them to be successful and productive.
We now need to see real ownership of this strategy – by the many, not just a few. This is not HSE’s strategy, it is for the whole of the system and everyone in it.
HSE will continue to take its responsibility as the prime mover, working with co-regulators, colleagues across government and other stakeholders to ensure our regulation stays simple and effective, and that our guidance is accessible to all. But broadening ownership of the ambition to improve health and safety is the key to our success.
We have an unprecedented opportunity to keep building a 21st-century, world-class occupational health and safety system that will help Great Britain work well.
If we can all come together to help achieve these things, maintain the gains made in safety, and seize the opportunity to give health the same priority, it will help improve productivity, keep business costs down, help keep workers safe and well, and protect members of the public.
Dame Judith Hackitt DBE
Great Britain’s health and safety record is the envy of much of the world. Central to this is protecting people by managing risk in a proportionate and effective way, supporting innovation and increasing productivity. The challenge is to improve even further on this impressive record. HSE is seeking to influence the system through the Helping Great Britain work well strategy.
While HSE’s position as a regulator ensures it will remain the key player, there is a role to play for everyone who has a stake or interest in improving health and safety in the workplace. This is what is called ‘the system’, not an abstract concept, but networks of organisations and individuals, including, among others, employers, employees, industry and trade bodies, supply chains, third-sector bodies, insurance and legal bodies, workers’ representatives, professional institutions and government, as well as co-regulators and many others. Put another way, this means all those who undertake, or influence, workplace activities and attitudes.
The Helping Great Britain work well strategy sets out the priority themes for us to focus on over the next five years. It is important to acknowledge at the start that this will not be at the expense of what is already done well, but the areas identified here are those on which all will need to focus their efforts collectively to make the greatest improvement.
HSE will continue to be a prime mover, whether through ongoing regulatory reform, working in partnership with stakeholders, carrying out inspections, assessing safety cases and reports, or where necessary taking enforcement action.
HSE will look to act increasingly as an enabler, supporting businesses, particularly small and medium enterprises (SMEs), by providing simple, accessible and relevant advice and challenging so-called ‘experts’ who overprescribe and overinterpret requirements. This should facilitate proportionate, appropriate and effective risk management, encouraging all those in the system to take much greater ownership of health and safety and ultimately help Great Britain work well.
To provide a focus for this important work, HSE has set out six strategic themes that will bring a renewed emphasis on improving health in the workplace, as well as building on the highly successful track record on safety.
Acting together: Promoting broader ownership of health and safety in Great Britain
Tackling ill health: Highlighting and tackling the costs of work-related ill health
Managing risk well: Simplifying risk management and helping business to grow
Supporting small employers: Giving SMEs simple advice so they know what they have to do
Keeping pace with change: Anticipating and tackling new health and safety challenges
Sharing our success: Promoting the benefits of Great Britain’s world-class health and safety system
These strategic themes were discussed with key players – representing all sectors and organisations with an interest in health and safety – during a nationwide engagement programme in January and February 2016.
The feedback suggested unanimous support for the overarching objective to help Great Britain work well.
Through the discussions that have recently taken place, there is a strong desire to renew the ambition for health and safety in Great Britain. The outcomes are already among the best in the world, but there is absolutely no sense of complacency and the ambition is to continue to innovate and change, keeping ahead of new developments in the workplace as well as international trends.
The six themes are the basis for agreeing a collective way forward that will help Great Britain work well. The themes have received widespread support across different sectors during the engagement process and provide a strong platform on which detailed delivery plans can be developed, in partnership with stakeholders.
The new strategy is built on a basic premise – by acting together in a supportive and encouraging environment, complemented by effective and proportionate regulation and risk management, the system can be greater than the sum of its parts. For HSE, the strategy also provides a clear direction on where resources should be targeted to greatest effect.
The result will be greater and wider ownership of the issues, with businesses able to enjoy the improved productivity that a strong health and safety culture will generate, while workers will be healthier and safer.
More information on each theme:
Great Britain’s health and safety record is the envy of much of the world. Building on a sound regulatory framework which has stood the test of time, the last five years have been guided by the Be part of the solution strategy. But as a number of factors have changed, including new technologies, social change and a renewed focus on occupational health, it is timely to look again at where the focus for the next five years needs to be. The fundamentals remain:
The focus of the strategy is to provide direction to the wider health and safety system for Great Britain and all those who are involved in, or interact, with it so that a much greater collective contribution to improving outcomes can be made. HSE is committed to playing its part to improve outcomes and deliver on its responsibilities as the independent regulator and prime mover in the system.
HSE will be there to support those efforts by capturing and promoting successful approaches and developing measures to track progress towards the delivery of the themes. The leadership from HSE will give others in the system the confidence to take more ownership.
For the whole of the health and safety system, there are a number of commitments to help Great Britain work well. The system, including HSE, should: