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Major Hazards

71. This Strategic Programme focuses on HSE's important role in regulating and ensuring safe management of those industries where failure to manage risks to health and safety can lead to a catastrophic effect.

72. The industries covered include:

Total gross expenditure

Pie chart displaying Total Gross Expenditure: Major hazards 21%

73. The railway industry is not a major hazard in the widely recognised sense; however, it contains certain characteristics common to other programmes within this Strategic Programme.

74. The dangers posed by major hazard industries mean that they are regulated through regimes with higher than normal levels of scrutiny and varying degrees of 'permissioning' (often to meet international obligations).

75. These industries are characterised by:

76. A commitment in the new HSC Strategy is that HSE will review its safety case regimes to ensure that they remain relevant and proportionate to the changing nature of these industries in Great Britain.

77. The first step in the review is to draw together information on the scope of work already taking place in the individual regimes and the degree of contact occurring with stakeholders. The conclusions should feed into the development of the Strategic Programme.

78. For further information on this subject, see the Health and Safety Commission's policy statement Our Approach To Permissioning Regimes [PDF 280kb]

What we aim to achieve

79. HSC/E has developed a national target for major hazards. This is one of the indicators used to measure progress against the new Public Service Agreement:

'To reduce still further the likelihood of catastrophic incidents in key major hazard industries regulated by HSE, by achieving a sustained reduction in the level of precursor incidents occurring in these industries over the period 2004 - 2006.'

80. HSE's Delivery Board has set the following targets for the Strategic Programme:

Sector Precursor indicator Baseline
(to end of 2005/06)
Nuclear Reports made to HSE by licence holders which indicate a challenge to nuclear safety 143 136
(5% decrease by 2006)
Offshore Major and significant hydrocarbon releases 113 74
(10% year-on-year reduction)
Relevant RIDDOR reportable dangerous occurrences (e.g. unintentional explosions, failure of pressure systems) 179 168
(6% reduction)
Railways Precursors that can lead to a catastrophic event - as valued within the Rail Safety Risk Index (SRI). SRI index value of 100 SRI index value of 65
(i.e. 10% year- on-year reduction)

81. 'precursor incident' is an event or group of events that indicates failure in systems controlling the risks from a major hazard. They are the links in a chain of causation, which would be key elements in preventing certain catastrophic outcomes.

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What we aim to do

82. While precursor incidents provide measurable insights into the way major hazards industries are controlling risk, they will not form the sole basis for our intervention strategy.

83. The Strategic Programme aims to demonstrate improved control of major hazards by:

Nuclear Safety

84. HSE will regulate nuclear safety effectively and efficiently to ensure:

85. To deliver these outcomes, the programme contains an integrated package of four key work streams:

86. For further information, download: HSE Nuclear Safety Directorate Strategic Plan 2003-2006

Offshore Safety

87. HSE works to control the risks to the health and safety of workers and the public from the activities of the diving and offshore oil and gas industries; including drilling, well control, marine and aviation activities.

88. The cornerstone of the offshore safety regime is the Offshore Installations (Safety Case) Regulations 1992. The HSC recognises that these regulations are now in need of reform. Policy Group in conjunction with Offshore Division propose changes to improve the regulation and control of major hazards offshore, by strengthening the safety case regime.

89. These changes will remove the need for unproductive effort by duty holders and HSE. We believe they will allow for more effective regulatory interventions. A consultation document is due to be released in the first quarter of 2004-05.

90. HSE will regulate offshore safety efficiently and effectively to ensure reductions in major accident precursors (major and significant hydrocarbon releases) and major accidents for offshore sites.

91. To deliver these outcomes, the programme contains an integrated package of five key work streams:

92. For further information go to

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Onshore Safety

93. HSE work to control risks to the health and safety of workers and the public from:

94. HSE will regulate onshore safety effectively and efficiently to ensure a reduction in major accident precursors (such as loss of containment of dangerous or flammable substances, failure of safety critical elements, fire and explosion) and major accidents at onshore sites.

95. To deliver these outcomes, the programme contains an integrated package of five key work streams:

96. For further information see

Railway Safety

97. both the Railways Inspectorate (RI) and HSE's rail policy divisions) work to secure proper control by duty holders of risks to the health and safety of passengers, employees and others who might be affected by the operation of Britain's railways. HSE also works with all stakeholders to maintain an effective and efficient framework for continuously improving health and safety on Britain's railways.

98. HSE is working to deliver the Rail Delivery Programme, which is designed to implement a challenging agenda, including the actions recommended by Lord Cullen (and subsequent Government commitments to railway safety) following the public inquiry into the Ladbroke Grove collision. The programme also aims to improve HSE's effectiveness, efficiency and ability to discharge its functions with greater consistency and timeliness.

99. Through the programme, HSE will continue to work with the industry to ensure its needs are take into account. The aim of the programme is a railway industry that demonstrates a sound understanding of risk management, reflected in improved trends in major accident precursors. The programme will deliver:

100. HSE is also working to deliver an integrated package of key work streams which support the aims of the HSC/E Railway Strategy.

101. HSE will regulate the railways effectively and efficiently to ensure a reduction in major accident precursors, which include:

102. And a reduction in incidents that may cause multiple fatalities, namely:

Updated 2019-07-19