The history of HSE



HM Factory Inspectorate was formed

The first factory inspectors were appointed under the provisions of the Factories Act 1833. Initially their main duty was to prevent injury and overworking in child textile workers. The four inspectors were responsible for approximately 3,000 textile mills and had powers to enter mills and question workers. They were also able to formulate new regulations and laws to ensure the Factories Act could be suitably enforced. Despite serious opposition from contemporary politicians and employers, the factory inspectors were enthusiastic and were able to influence subsequent legislation relating to machinery guarding and accident reporting. By 1868 there were 35 inspectors and sub-inspectors, each responsible for a distinct geographical area. Changes to legislation during the period 1860 to 1871 extended the Factories Act to practically all workplaces and the inspectors took on the role of technical advisers in addition to their enforcement duties. Major technological developments, world wars and the changing nature of employment have provided a constant challenge to factory inspectors over subsequent years.


Mines Inspectorate was formed

In 1840 a Royal Commission was established to investigate working conditions in the mining industry. The Commission's findings published in 1842 made shocking reading. Accidents, brutality, lung diseases, long hours and highly dangerous and adverse working conditions were found to be the norm. Public outcry resulted and the Mines Act 1842 was brought into force.

The Act allowed for the appointment of an inspector of mines and collieries and the first inspector, Hugh Seymour Tremenheere took up his post in 1843. Tremenheere had only limited powers under the Act but undertook many prosecutions, investigated the condition of the mining community and made recommendations for training managers, reporting of fatal and serious accidents and provision of pithead baths and suitable habitation for mine workers. In 1850 inspectors were allowed to enter and inspect mine premises and Tremenheere's plans for a dedicated mining inspectorate began to be realised.


The first women factory inspector were appointed

The Factory Inspectorate was formed in 1833 and for the first 60 years it employed only male inspectors. Alexander Redgrave, the Chief Inspector of Factories was opposed to the idea of women inspectors, saying in his 1879 annual report:

"I doubt very much whether the office of factory inspector is one suitable for women... The general and multifarious duties of an inspector of factories would really be incompatible with the gentle and home-loving character of a woman..."

After several years of campaigning by the Women's Protective and Provident League, the London Women's Trades Council and others and amid growing support in Parliament, the first "Lady Inspectors", May Abraham and Mary Paterson were appointed in 1893. They were based in London and Glasgow respectively and earned an annual salary of £200. Much of their early work involved enforcing the Truck Acts, investigating women's hours of employment and enforcing health and safety in laundries.


The Quarry Inspectorate was formed

Prior to the Quarries Act 1894, the only quarries that factory inspectors were responsible for inspecting were quarries using steam power. The introduction of the Quarries Act 1894 extended the powers of the Metalliferous Mines Regulation Act 1872 to give inspectors the power to enforce provisions of notifying accidents, undertake prosecutions and make Special Rules. This lead to the establishment of the Quarry Inspectorate.



Agriculture (Safety, Health and Welfare Provisions) Act 1956

This Act introduced comprehensive health protection and safeguards for agricultural workers and for children who may come into contact with agricultural machinery, equipment or vehicles. It prohibited the lifting of excessive weights, outlined the general provisions that must be made for sanitary conveniences and washing facilities and stipulated requirements for first aid provision. The Act also laid down requirements for the notification and investigation of accidents and diseases. It was instrumental in appointing a number of inspectors with the powers to enter agricultural premises and enforce the Act.


Nuclear Installations Act 1959 which established the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate

The investigation into a major incident at the Windscale nuclear site on 8 October 1957 lead to a recommendation from the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) that a body should be set up with responsibility for licensing future civil reactors in the UK. The insurance industry added pressure to the debate and in 1959 the Nuclear Installations Act was passed, setting in train the formation of the Inspectorate of Nuclear Installations within the Ministry of Power. Today's Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (NII) is responsible for the UK safety regulation of nuclear power stations, nuclear chemical plants, defence nuclear facilities, nuclear safety research, decommissioning and strategy. Since 2 April 2007 NII has also been responsible for civil nuclear operational security and safeguards matters.


Flixborough chemical plant explosion (28 fatalities)

On Saturday 1 June 1974 a massive explosion destroyed a large part of the Nypro (UK) Ltd plant at Flixborough, near Scunthorpe. Twenty eight people were killed in the incident and 36 people suffered injuries. More casualties could have been expected if the incident had occurred on a week day. Widespread damage was caused to surrounding commercial premises and residential housing. The explosion resulted from the ignition and deflagration of a huge vapour cloud which formed when cyclohexane under pressure escaped from a part of the plant used in the production of cyclohexanone and cyclohexanol. Her Majesty's Factory Inspectorate investigated the incident (this was before the Health and Safety Executive was formed) and produced an interim report. Following on from this, a formal investigation into the circumstances surrounding the explosion was undertaken by a Court of Inquiry chaired by Roger J. Parker QC.

Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974

The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 was described as "a bold and far-reaching piece of legislation" by HSE's first Director General, John Locke. It certainly marked a departure from the framework of prescribed and detailed regulations which was in place at the time. The Act introduced a new system based on less-prescriptive and more goal-based regulations, supported by guidance and codes of practice. For the first time employers and employees were to be consulted and engaged in the process of designing a modern health and safety system. The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 also established the Health and Safety Commission (HSC) for the purpose of proposing new regulations, providing information and advice and conducting research. HSC's operating arm, the Health and Safety Executive was formed shortly after in order to enforce health and safety law, a duty shared with Local Authorities.

Health and Safety Commission established

The Health and Safety Commission (HSC) was formed when the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 received Royal Assent on 31 July 1974. HSC's constitution and responsibilities were laid out in Sections 1, 10 and 11 of the Act and, according to the first HSC annual report (1977) included: "taking appropriate steps to secure the health, safety and welfare of people at work, to protect the public generally against risks to health and safety arising out of the work situation, to give general direction to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and guidance to Local Authorities on the enforcement provisions of the Act, to assist and encourage persons with duties under the Act and to make suitable arrangements for research and the provision of information." Some of the key health and safety hazards which HSC was concerned with in its first few months included asbestos, construction, dusts, genetic manipulation, ionising radiation, lead, noise and vinyl chloride.


Health and Safety Executive was formed

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) was formed on 1 January 1975 under the leadership of its first Director, John Locke. HSE's remit was to undertake the requirements of the Health and Safety Commission and to enforce health and safety legislation in all workplaces, except those regulated by Local Authorities. A number of regulatory and scientific organisations transferred to HSE at this time, including: the Factory Inspectorate; Explosives Inspectorate; Employment Medical Advisory Service; Nuclear Installations Inspectorate; Safety and Health Division from the Department of Energy; the Mines Inspectorate; the Safety in Mines Research Establishment; the British Approvals Service for Electrical Equipment in Flammable Atmospheres; and the Alkali and Clean Air Inspectorate. One of the first tasks undertaken by HSE was the re-organisation of the Factory Inspectorate into a series of 21 Area Offices and 11 local offices, supported by Field Consultant Groups, comprised of specialist scientific and technical staff.

First HSC advisory committees established

The Health and Safety Commission (HSC) set up the first of a number of advisory committees during 1975. This was done with a view to drawing upon the expertise of industry and specialist organisations and in encouraging wide participation in the improvement of occupational health and safety. Advisory committees on the following topics were set up over the next couple of years: Advisory Committee on Dangerous Substances; Advisory Committee on Toxic Substance; Medical Advisory Committee; Advisory Committee on Asbestos; Advisory Committee on Major Hazards; Advisory Committee on the Safety of Nuclear Installations; Safety in Mines Research Advisory Board; and the British Approvals Service for Electrical Equipment In Flammable Atmospheres (BASEEFA) Advisory Council. HSC also consulted the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and Confederation of British Industry (CBI) for suggestions for additional advisory bodies. A full list of contemporary advisory committees is available.


First HSC annual report published

The first annual report published by the Health and Safety Commission (HSC) concentrated on three strategic aims, namely: encouraging positive attitudes to health and safety in the workplace; developing better information about the cause and scale of hazards; and the review of section 1(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The report also outlined the objectives of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Health and Safety Commission (HSC), the scope of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and policy development.


Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977 (S.I. 1977/500)

These regulations established the right of a recognised trade union to appoint safety representatives from among the employees it represented. The exception to this was employees of mines, specifically coal mines as defined by section 180 of the Mines and Quarries Act 1954. The regulations conferred number of powers to safety representatives including: "to investigate potential hazards and dangerous occurrences at the workplace (whether or not they are drawn to his attention by the employees he represents) and to examine the causes of accidents at the workplace"; "to make representations to the employer on general matters affecting the health, safety or welfare of the employees at the workplace"; and to inspect certain documents. Under the terms of the regulations, two or more safety representatives could request their employer to establish a safety committee. The regulations also outlined the terms for pay for time off allowed to safety representatives carrying out official duties.


Golborne Colliery disaster (10 fatalities)

Ten people died and one person was seriously injured when firedamp ignited and exploded in the Plodder Seam at the Golborne Colliery in the Greater Manchester area on 18 March 1979. Firedamp accumulated following a breakdown in the ventilation system and it is thought that this was probably ignited by electrical sparking. The Health and Safety Executive's Safety in Mines Research Establishment (SMRE) investigated the incident and made recommendations for improving both ventilation systems and intrinsically safe electrical equipment in mines.


Control of Lead at Work Regulations 1980 (S.I. 1980/1248)

The Regulations stipulated that where employees are exposed to lead in the workplace, employers or those who are self-employed must assess the work in order to establish the nature and degree of the exposure to lead. Employers are also required to provide information, training and instruction to exposed workers. Other requirements under the Regulations included: ensuring control measures are in place for material, plant and processes and that these are properly maintained; providing washing and changing facilities and areas for employees to eat, drink and smoke; avoiding the spread of contamination; cleaning; air monitoring; and conducting medical surveillance and biological tests. For more information about lead, see the Lead pages on the HSE Website.

Notification of Accidents and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1980 (S.I. 1980/637)

The Notification of Accidents and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1980 (NADOR) required employers and the self- employed to keep a record of any accidents or certain types of dangerous occurrences and report these to HSE. The Regulations include lists of the types of dangerous occurrences that are reportable, including those that occur in any situation and those that relate specifically to mines, quarries and railways. Today, the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulation 1995 (RIDDOR) has replaced NADOR. For more information about what is reportable under RIDDOR and what employers, employees, the self employed and gas suppliers and fitters are obliged to do under the Regulations, please visit the RIDDOR pages on the HSE Website.


Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981 (S.I. 1981/917)

These Regulations which came into force on 1st July 1982 stipulated that "an employer shall provide or ensure that there are provided, such equipment and facilities as are adequate and appropriate in the circumstances for enabling first aid to be rendered to his employees if they are injured or become ill at work." Employers were also required to inform employees about the arrangements in place for providing first-aid, including the location of facilities, personnel and equipment. Self-employed people were also covered by the Regulations as there was a requirement for them to provide appropriate and adequate equipment for rendering first aid to themselves at work, if necessary.


150th anniversary of HM Factory Inspectorate

Today, HSE's factory inspectors are based in the Field Operations Directorate. For more information, see the '1990: Field Operations Directorate was formed' entry.

Information about the origins and development of the Factory Inspectorate can be accessed via the '1833: HM Factory Inspectorate was formed' entry.

HSE starts to enforce asbestos licensing industry

The Health and Safety Commission's Advisory Committee on Asbestos reached agreement on two European Union directives concerning protection of workers exposed to asbestos and the marketing and use of asbestos. This agreement, based on medical evidence and research on engineering controls resulted in the development of the Asbestos (Licensing) Regulations 1983 which came into force on 1 August 1984.

Asbestos (Licensing) Regulations 1983 (S.I. 1983/1649)


The Asbestos (Licensing) Regulations 1983 came into force on 1 August and have been amended by several pieces of legislation in the intervening years. At the time the Regulations became law, no-one could carry out work with asbestos insulation including asbestos insulation board or asbestos coating unless they held a licence granted by HSE or worked for someone who held such a licence. There were three exemptions to the requirements, namely: collecting samples or air monitoring to identify asbestos; work carried out with asbestos insulation, asbestos insulating board or asbestos coating by employers or the self-employed, either by themselves or by using their own employees and in their own premises; and work of short duration using these materials. For more information about present day requirements for working with asbestos, please visit the Asbestos pages on the HSE Website.

HSE starts to enforce genetic manipulation regulations

HSE assumed responsibility for enforcing the Health and Safety (Genetic Manipulation) Regulations 1978 from the Department of Education and Science in 1983. In March 1984 a new Advisory Committee on Genetic Manipulation (ACGM) was set up to support this new role. In its first year, ACGM set up working parties to investigate: the release of genetically manipulated organisms for agricultural and environmental purposes; the uses of viruses in genetic manipulation, including the use of recombinants containing potentially harmful nucleic acid sequences; and monitoring of workers involved in genetic manipulation work. In 2004, ACGM was replaced by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Genetic Modification (Contained Use), (SACGM(CU)). SACGM(CU) provides technical and scientific advice to the UK Competent Authority on all aspects of the human and environmental risks of the contained use of genetically modified organisms.


HSE starts to enforce domestic gas safety

HSE assumed responsibility for mains gas safety functions on 1 February 1984, taking over from the Department of Energy. This involves responsibility for the safety of gas mains in the home as well as the workplace. HSE was given the power to introduce gas safety regulations under the Gas Act 1972 and enforce safety regulations made under this Act. Now HSE and local authorities have joint enforcement responsibilities under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 and are responsible for preventing injury to consumers and the public from either fire and explosion or carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. More information is available on the Gas health and safety law and enforcement website.

Abbeystead pumping station (16 fatalities)

An explosion occurred at a subterranean valve house in the Lune/Wyre Water Transfer Scheme at Abbeystead in Lancashire on 23 May 1984. Sixteen people were killed and 28 injured whilst taking part in an evening visit at the site. The visit was part of a programme to demonstrate to local residents that their fears that the Transfer Scheme would cause winter flooding were unfounded. The explosion occurred while water was being pumped over the weir into the river Wyre. The valve house was severely damaged during the incident. HSE investigated and concluded that the explosion was caused by ignition of a mixture of methane and air which had built up in the wet room of Abbeystead Valve House. The source of the ignition was not identified. HSE also contacted water authorities and alerted them to the potential dangers of water transfer and comparable systems where methane could pose a serious risk.

Control of Industrial Major Accident Hazard Regulations 1984 (S.I. 1984/1902)

The Regulations, known as CIMAH, require that safe operation can be demonstrated for industrial activities in which various substances as defined in Schedule I of the Regulations are involved. They also set out requirements for isolated storage of substances in Schedule 2 of the Regulations. Under the Regulations, manufacturers are required to provide written evidence that major accident hazards have been identified and the necessary steps put in place to prevent major incidents and protect workers on the site. They also are required to prepare an off-site emergency plan to complement the Local Authority emergency plan and to provide information to the Local Authority which can be used to inform people living in the locality who might be affected by a CIMAH site.


Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1985 (S.I. 1985/2023)

The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1985, commonly known as 'RIDDOR', require a 'responsible person' to notify the enforcing authority where a person dies or sustains any injuries or specific medical conditions or where a dangerous occurrence takes place in connection with a work activity. The Regulations set out the specific injuries which are reportable including fractures, amputation, decompression sickness and others. A list of the dangerous occurrences reportable under RIDDOR is provided in Schedule 1 of the Regulations, while a second schedule sets out reportable diseases under RIDDOR. Separate notification requirements for mines, quarries and railways are also explained.

Putney domestic gas explosion (8 fatalities)

Eight residents were killed in a major explosion which occurred on 10 January 1985 at a block of luxury flats in Newnham House, Manor Fields, Putney, South London. HSE worked with investigation teams from the British Gas Corporation, South Eastern Gas, Midland Research Station, the London Borough of Wandsworth and the police and fire authority to ascertain the cause of the incident. Investigations revealed the explosion was caused by gas leaking into the building from a crack in the cast iron pipe that formed the gas main. The crack had been caused by uneven loading on the pipe due to differential settlement. HSE made a number of recommendations regarding the safety of gas mains, one of the key ones being for the British Gas Corporation to review its priorities for replacing cast iron gas mains.

HSE starts to enforce transport of dangerous goods by road safety

Legislation surrounding the regulation of dangerous goods has been subject to many changes since HSE began enforcing The Dangerous Substances (Conveyance by Road in Packages) Regulations 1986 (PGR). Today HSE is one of the organisations responsible for enforcing The Carriage of Dangerous Goods and Use of Transportable Pressure Receptacles Regulations 2009 (CDG 2009). More information about HSE's role in this area can be found in the Dangerous Goods manual.

Fire at Bradford City Football Stadium - Valley Parade

Fifty six people died and approximately 256 were injured when a serious fire broke out in the main stand at Valley Parade, the home ground of Bradford City Football Club, on Saturday 11 May 1985. HSE investigated this incident, described as the worst fire disaster in the history of British football. Forensic tests concluded that the fire was probably started by a dropped match or a cigarette stubbed out in a polystyrene cup. The old wooden stands that had been in place for decades at the ground contributed to the ferocity of the fire. The disaster prompted a review of the UK's sports grounds and stadia, resulting in legislative changes.

Ionising Radiations Regulations 1985 (1985 No 1333)

The Ionising Radiations Regulations 1985 applied to any work with ionising radiation except work carried out under section 1 of the Nuclear Installations Act 1965 and in certain activities as outlined in Schedule 3 of the Regulations. The Regulations set out legal duties in the following areas: dose limitation including restriction of exposure; designation of controlled areas and of classified persons; appointment of qualified persons; training and instruction requirements; dosimetry and medical surveillance; control of radioactive substances including arrangements for personal protective equipment and washing and changing facilities; assessment of hazards; investigation of cases of overexposure; and fees for medical examinations.


HSE starts to enforce pesticide safety

The Control of Pesticides Regulations 1986 (S.I. 1986/1510) conferred authority on HSE to enforce pesticide safety. The Regulations provided a detailed list of those types of pesticides which are subject to control and those which are excluded. They also outlined the approvals required before any pesticides could be sold, stored, used, supplied or advertised. In addition, the Regulations set out the general conditions for pesticides regarding sale, supply, storage, advertisement and use, including aerial application. The Regulations were superseded by the Control of Pesticides Regulations 1997 (S.I. 1997/188). More information about HSE's role in enforcing pesticides safety can be found on the HSE Website.


Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 1987 (S.I. 1987/2115)

These regulations stipulate that an employer 'shall not carry out any work which exposes or is liable to expose any of his employees to asbestos unless either a) before commencing that work he has identified, by analysis or otherwise, the type of asbestos involved in the work; or b) he has assumed that the asbestos is crocidolite or amosite and for the purposes of the Regulations has treated it accordingly'. Under the Regulations, employers must notify the enforcing authority of work with asbestos in certain circumstances. They must also provide information, instruction and training for employees who are liable to be exposed to asbestos during the course of their work. Adequate control measures must be in place and must be adequately maintained to prevent or reduce the spread of asbestos. Other requirements of the regulations include: ensuring cleanliness of plant and premises; designation of areas where asbestos is present; air monitoring including associated record-keeping; medical surveillance and keeping health records; provision of washing and changing facilities; and storage and labelling of raw asbestos and asbestos waste.

Kings Cross underground station fire (31 fatalities)

The King's Cross underground station fire occurred on 18 November 1987. Thirty one people died and many more were injured. The fire started when a lighted match which was dropped by a passenger on one of the station's escalators fell through a gap between the treads and skirting boards and set fire to grease and dust that had been allowed to accumulate. The resulting fire spread rapidly, accompanied by thick black smoke. As London Underground's practice was to call the Fire Brigade only when a fire seemed to be getting out of hand, by the time the Fire Brigade arrived, the fire was widespread and out of control. There were no smoke detectors in place in the station and only a manual water spray system. The Fennell Inquiry report noted that the London Underground staff members on duty were poorly trained and "woefully inequipped to meet the emergency that arose". Following the incident, London Underground and the other organisations involved in the incident accepted 157 recommendations for safety improvements outlined in the official report.


Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (S.I. 1988/1657)

The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations, generally referred to as the COSHH Regulations, were introduced to protect the health of people arising from work activities. Under the Regulations, employers must carry out a risk assessment to ensure that employees are not exposed to substances which will be hazardous to their health. Where exposure to such substances cannot be prevented, employers must provide suitable protective equipment and control measures and they must ensure that such equipment is adequately maintained, examined and tested and the results of tests recorded and kept. RIDDOR stipulates a requirement for monitoring exposure in the workplace and maintaining suitable records. It also sets out requirements for health surveillance and medical surveillance. Employers are also obliged to ensure that where exposure to hazardous substance is unavoidable, workers are made aware of the associated health risks and the precautions that should be taken including any associated instruction and training requirements.

Clapham train crash (35 fatalities)

A major rail accident occurred on the morning of 12 December 1988 at Clapham junction when two commuter trains collided and were subsequently hit by a third empty train. Thirty five people died in the accident and many other passengers sustained injuries. The Inquiry into the collision concluded that the main cause was 'wiring issues' and it laid the blame on British Rail work practices. The Inquiry also made 93 recommendations for safety improvements to be made. These included a limit to the hours that signalmen should be allowed to work and a system of automatic train protection (ATP) to be installed.

Piper Alpha oil installation fire and explosion (167 fatalities)

A series of catastrophic explosions occurred on the Piper Alpha offshore platform on the evening of 6 July 1988. This lead to a major and sustained gas fire which resulted when the Tartan gas riser ruptured. The majority of the emergency systems including the fire water system failed to operate and the resulting fierce fires and dense smoke made evacuation by helicopter or lifeboats impossible. Structural collapse of the platform quickly followed, causing many of the offshore workers to jump into the sea. Of the 226 people on board the Piper Alpha platform, 165 died and two members of the 'Sandhaven's' fire rescue craft lost their lives. The Lord Cullen inquiry into the incident made a series of recommendations for the future regulation of the offshore installations and appointed the Health and Safety Executive as a single regulatory body to enforce occupational health and safety in the offshore oil and gas industry.


Noise at Work Regulations 1989 (S.I. 1989/1790)

The Noise at Work Regulations 1989 stipulate that 'Every employer shall reduce the risk of damage to the hearing of his employees from exposure to noise to the lowest level reasonably practicable'. To this end, the Regulations require that a noise assessment should be made if employees are likely to be exposed to the first action level or above or to the peak action level of noise. The assessment should be reviewed as appropriate and adequate assessment records kept.

Where employees are exposed to noise, adequate ear protection must be provided and ear protection zones set up where necessary. Any equipment provided must be carefully maintained and used and employees should be given information on the steps they can take to protect their hearing in the workplace. The Regulations also outline the particular modifications of the duties of manufacturers of articles for use at work and articles of fairground equipment in relation to the Regulations.

Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 (S.I. 1989/635)

The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 had a wide remit, covering: work systems, protective equipment and work activities; adverse or hazardous environments; capability and strength of electrical equipment; earthing and other suitable precautions; electrical protection, insulation and placing of conductors; connections; integrity of conductors; cutting off electrical supply and isolation; working on dead equipment; working on or in the vicinity of live conductors; working space, lighting and access; and competent persons. A section of the Regulations applied only to Mines, covering areas such as: introduction of electrical equipment; restrictions in certain underground zones; provisions associated with the presence of firedamp; approval of certain equipment in safety-lamp mines; cutting off electricity to circuits underground; oil-filled equipment; electric shock notices; information and records; use of battery-powered locomotives and vehicles into safety-lamp mines; and storage, transfer and charging of electrical storage batteries.

Hillsborough disaster

The Hillsborough Stadium disaster in which 96 people were killed and 170 injured was one of Britain's worst sporting disasters. The disaster occurred on 15 April 1989 at the Hillsborough football stadium during the FA Cup semi-final match between Nottingham Forest and Liverpool. Football fans were caught up in a massive crush which occurred as a result of too many Liverpool fans being let into a full stand at the Leppings Lane end of the stadium. The resulting surge of fans gaining access to the ground caused the fans already inside the ground to be pushed against the wire safety fences and crushed. Lord Justice Taylor's official Inquiry into the disaster led to many new safety measures being introduced to sporting stadia.


HSE starts to enforce rail safety

Responsibility for railway safety passed from the Department of Transport to HSE in 1990. This took place because the Department of Transport's Railway Inspectorate was heavily criticised for their poor protection of rail passengers and for not employing modern risk assessment techniques. The transfer was also seen as beneficial because it passed the responsibility for safety to the main Government health and safety regulator and away from the transport industry's representative government department. The privatisation of British Rail during the period 1993 to 1996 saw a hundred companies taking charge of the rail industry. HSE introduced a new regulatory framework to manage the challenges to railway safety culture and risk management that took place during this period. The key components of the regulatory framework included new safety cases and permissioning regimes. From 1 April 2006 the Railway Inspectorate moved to the Office of Rail and Road (ORR). More information about HSE's role in regulating the health and safety of the railway industry can be found in 'A farewell to trains'

HSE starts to carry out nuclear safety research

Responsibility for nuclear research passed from the Department of Energy to the Health and Safety Commission (HSC) on 1 April 1990. The Nuclear Safety Research Management Unit (NSRMU) was established to manage the nuclear safety research programme on behalf of HSC. Its work was reviewed by the Advisory Committee on Safety in Nuclear Installations' (ACSNI) Subcommittee on Research. ACSNI was particularly concerned with the reductions in nuclear research among the current nuclear licensees due to commercial pressures, and consequently stressed the need for HSC to support key areas of nuclear research. ACSNI recommended that more research into the effects of nuclear plant ageing, human factors and future reactor designs would be beneficial. It also welcomed the fact that HSC's research programme was being opened up to competition and that customer-contractor arrangements were being strengthened to ensure better targeting of research priorities.


HSE starts to enforce offshore safety

HSE'S Offshore Division was established at the recommendation of Lord Cullen's Inquiry into the Piper Alpha offshore explosion in 1988. This change in responsibility brought about a shift in emphasis for the industry as prescriptive regulations which set specific requirements on duty holders were replaced by goal-setting regulations. One of the main requirements of the new regime was the introduction of a safety case system in which each installation is required to demonstrate that major hazards are adequately controlled and that a suitable management system is in place. Safety cases are submitted to HSE for approval and approval must be obtained before an offshore company is allowed to operate on the UK continental shelf. Today's challenge for the offshore industry and for HSE is to manage the integrity of an ageing infrastructure while improving health and safety for the offshore workforce.


'Six pack' regulations

Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 (S.I. 1992/3004)


These wide ranging Regulations were laid before Parliament on 8 December 1992 and came into force on 1 January 2003. The Regulations apply to the majority of workplaces and cover many workplace issues. These include: maintenance of workplaces and of equipment, devices and systems; ventilation; indoor workplace temperature; lighting; cleanliness and waste materials; room dimensions and space; workstations and seating; conditions of floors and traffic routes; falls or falling objects; windows and transparent / translucent doors, gates and walls; windows, skylights and ventilators; safe cleaning of windows; planning traffic routes; doors and gates; escalators and moving walkways; sanitary conveniences; washing facilities; drinking water; accommodation for clothing; and  facilities for changing clothing, resting and eating meals.

Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 (S.I. 1992/2793)

The Regulations required employers to ensure 'so far as is reasonably practicable that employees should not be asked to carry out manual handling work where there is a risk of being injured. Where such work is necessary, employers were required to make an assessment of the risks involved, take any appropriate steps required to ensure that risks are kept to a minimum, and provide employers undertaking such work with information about the weight of each load and the heaviest side of any load which has a non-centrally positioned centre of gravity. Schedule 1 of the Regulations outlined the factors that employers should take into account when carrying out an assessment of the risks associated with manual handling tasks.

The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 (S.I. 1992/2792)

These Regulations require employers to assess all computer workstations to ensure health and safety risks are identified and effectively minimised. The Regulations stipulate that employees who use DSE in their work must be able to periodically take adequate breaks or changes of activity from using display screen equipment (DSE). Employees are also entitled to request eye and eyesight tests. Employers must also provide health and safety training and information about working with DSE to employees. The Regulations also set out requirements for display screens, keyboards, work desks or work surfaces and chairs as well as environmental factors such as providing adequate arrangements for space and lighting, along with measures for controlling noise, reflections and glare, heat, humidity and radiation. In addition, the software and tasks carried out by an operator or user of a computer must be appropriate to both the task being undertaken and the knowledge of the operator or user.

Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1992 (S.I. 1992/2932)

These Regulations, commonly known as PUWER, apply to the equipment provided for use in workplaces in general, including offshore installations. They also apply to self-employed people who use equipment in a work capacity. The Regulations impose a wide range of requirements for the provision and use of work equipment, including: suitability; maintenance; risks; information and instructions; training; EU conformity; dangerous parts of machinery; protection against specific hazards; working in high or very low temperatures; operating controls; isolation; stability; lighting; maintenance; markings; and warnings and exemptions.

Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 (S.I. 1992/2966)

The regulations stipulate that personal protective equipment (PPE) should be supplied and used in the workplace wherever there are risks to health and safety that cannot be eliminated or managed in any other way. The regulations also require that PPE is: properly assessed to ensure its suitability; issued with full instructions on its safe use; stored and maintained properly; and used correctly by employees.

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1992 (S.I. 1992/2051)


The regulations set out responsibilities for carrying out risk assessments and health surveillance in the workplace, as well as putting health and safety arrangements including assistance in place. Other responsibilities set out by the regulations include: procedures for serious and imminent danger and for danger areas; co-operation and co-ordination between employers sharing work premises; self-employed persons' undertakings; working in hosted premises; providing information for employees; capabilities and training; employees' duties; and responsibilities towards temporary workers.


150th anniversary of the Mines Inspectorate

HM Inspectorate of Mines was formed in 1843 under the leadership of Hugh Seymour Tremenheere. The mining industry has undergone many changes in the intervening years, but its safety record has improved tremendously and today the UK continues to be the world leader in mining health and safety. For more information about the early history of HM Inspectorate of Mines please see the 1843 entry 'Mines Inspectorate was formed' in this Timeline. You can also find out about the Mines Inspectorate in the 21st century, in the HSE Website's Health and safety in mining pages.


Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 1994 (S.I. 1994/3140)

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 1994 (CDM) came into force on 31 March 1995. The first part of the Regulations dealt with the application of the Regulations and definitions. The second part outlines how the regulations apply to construction work.  The roles and responsibilities of clients and agents of clients are explained in the third part. There are also separate sections for developers, appointments of principal contractor and planning supervisor and the responsibilities assigned to these roles.

Major Review of Regulation completed

In 1992, the Health and Safety Commission was charged with undertaking a review of extant health and safety legislation. The purpose of the review was to check whether existing legislation was still relevant and necessary in its current form. In addition the review aimed to reduce the administrative burdens that legislation can place on small businesses and also examine HSE's general approach to enforcement. The review found that, while there was widespread support for the framework of health and safety legislation, much of the current law was seen as 'too voluminous, complicated and fragmented'. When the finding of the report was published in 1994, it recommended the removal of 100 sets of regulations and seven pieces of primary legislation as well as the simplification of many of the 340 requirements and recommendations for associated administrative paperwork. A comprehensive programme was put into place to achieve the necessary reforms and the ongoing process to reduce the burdens on business is described in HSE's Simplification Plan.


100th anniversary of the Quarry Inspectorate

Health and Safety Laboratory (HSL) becomes an agency of HSE

An experimental station to investigate explosions in coal mines was set up at Eskmeals in Cumberland in 1911 by the UK government. Over the next few years, this area of research continued to grow and after the formation of the Safety in Mines Research Board in 1921, a site at Harpur Hill was acquired in 1924 for large scale mining safety work. The Safety in Mines Research Establishment (SMRE) was formed in 1947 and this combined the work of the Buxton site with the central laboratories which had opened in Sheffield in 1928. In 1959 the Occupational Medicine Laboratory was opened in London in 1959 and in 1975 the three organisations were merged to form the Health and Safety Executive's Research and Laboratory Services Division (RLSD) .RLSD's laboratories were integrated into one laboratory, the Health and Safety Laboratory in 1995. More information is available on the HSL Website.


Construction (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1996 (S.I. 1996/1592)

The Construction (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1996 came into force on 2nd September 1996. The Regulations set out a wide range of enforceable safety measures for the construction industry including the provision of "suitable and sufficient safe access to and egress from every place of work and to any other place provided for the use of any person while at work, which access and egress shall be without risks to health and properly maintained." Specific requirements of the Regulations included: preventing falls; ensuring the stability of structures; safe methods for demolition and dismantling operations; protection from falling objects; temperature and weather protection; fire detection and fire-fighting measures; provision of welfare facilities; safe use of explosives; provision of lighting; safe systems for using cofferdams and caissons; inspection by competent persons; training; and others.


Southall rail accident

The Southall rail accident occurred when the 10.35 high speed train from Swansea to London Paddington collided with a freight train operated by English Welsh and Scottish Railway. The incident happened at 13.15 on 19 September 1997 at Southall East Junction. Seven people died in the accident and 139 people were injured, some of these sustaining serious injuries. HSE's Railway Inspectorate investigated the incident and an official inquiry was conducted by Professor John Uff.


Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 (S.I. 1998/2451)

The first of the general provisions of the Regulations covered qualification and supervision and states that 'No person shall carry out work in relation to a gas fitting or gas storage vessel unless he is competent to do so'. The Regulations imposed a duty on employers to ensure that people carrying out work on gas installations have been approved by HSE under regulation 3(3) of these Regulations. Requirements for materials and workmanship, protection against damage, existing gas fittings as well as general safety precautions are also outlined in the Regulations.


40th anniversary of the Nuclear Installation Inspectorate

The Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (NII) came into being in 1959, under one of the provisions of the Nuclear Installations Act 1959. The Act came into force as a consequence of the Fleck Inquiry into the fire at Windscale Pile 1. This incident which occurred in 1957 has been the UK's worst nuclear accident. Over the years, NII has been involved in responding to accidents such as Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, participating in major public inquiries and providing help to European regulators. Today's Nuclear Directorate (ND) sets the safety and security standards to be used on nuclear sites in the UK. ND is also involved in a Transition Programme aimed at creating a new Nuclear Statutory Corporation (NSC) that will incorporate all elements of the HSE's Nuclear Directorate (Nuclear Installations Directorate, Office for Civil Nuclear Security and UK Safeguards Office).

Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations 1999 (S.I. 1999/743)

The Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations 1999 (COMAH) set out the responsibilities of operators of plants where scheduled hazardous chemicals are used, to prevent major accidents and limit the consequences of major accidents to people and the environment. The regulations require operators to formulate a major accident prevention policy and also to notify the competent authority at the start of the construction of a plant handling scheduled chemicals and at the end, when the plant is being decommissioned or the chemicals are no longer present on site. The regulations also require retailed safety reports to be sent to the competent authority and for operators to produce emergency plans in consultation with local authorities. In addition, operators must provide information to the public with regard to local safety measures and actions to take in the event of a major accident at a COMAH site.

Ladbroke Grove train crash (31 fatalities)

Thirty-one people died and over 400 were injured when a passenger train passed a red signal and collided with a high-speed passenger train at Ladbroke Grove in West London on 5 October 1999. The Health and Safety Executive's Railway Inspectorate investigated the incident and Lord Cullen chaired a Public Inquiry into the causes of the crash as well as wider issues relating to regulatory matters and safety management. In 2004 HSE won a prosecution against Thames Trains for breaches of Section 2 and 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act relating to driver training. Following this, in 2005 the Crown Prosecution Service successfully prosecuted Network Rail Infrastructure (formerly Railtrack Plc) under Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act.

Bill Callaghan appointed as Chair of the Health and Safety Commission

Bill Callaghan took up the post of Chair of the Health and Safety Commission in October 1999. Formerly the Chief Economist and Head of the Economic and Social Affairs Department at the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Bill Callaghan also served on the Low Pay Commission from 1997 – 2000. During his time as HSC Chair, Bill Callaghan played a major role in the 'Revitalising health and safety' campaign which set targets and priorities for improving health and safety performance. He also lead on the development of HSC's strategy to 2010 and beyond and spearheaded the sensible risk campaign which was aimed at overturning health and safety myths. Bill Callaghan was knighted in June 2007 in recognition of his outstanding contribution to health and safety management at work. He also received a Distinguished Service Award from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA) in October of that year.



'Revitalising health and safety strategy' launched

The Revitalising Health and Safety Strategy Statement was published in June 2000 to mark the start of the ten year campaign of the same name. The Revitalising health and safety strategy was launched at a time when the same proportion of people had been injured at work since the early 1990s. The aim of the Revitalising health and safety strategy was to help people at work to protect themselves and their business, to improve the quality of life in the workplace and to help employers and employees to make work safer and healthier. Measurable targets were set and reviewed at regular intervals.

'Securing health together occupational health strategy for Great Britain' launched

The 'Securing health together occupational health strategy for Great Britain' was launched in 2000 as a ten year strategy for reducing high levels of occupational ill-health and the resulting costs to families, employers and society. The Strategy was based on several main targets: to reduce ill health in workers and the public that had been caused or affected by work; to help people who had been ill to return to work, whether or not their work had caused their absence; to improve work opportunities for people not in work, due to illness or disability; to use the work environment to help people improve or maintain their health. A number of measurable targets were at the heart of the Strategy and the contemporary estimated gross benefits of reaching the targets were estimated to be 6.6 to 21.8 billion pounds sterling by 2010.


HSC's 'Strategy for workplace health and safety to 2010 and beyond' launched

A Strategy was launched in February 2004 to set a new direction for the role of the Health and Safety Commission, Health and Safety Executive and Local Authorities. The Strategy aimed to improve poor safety performances, engender a greater participation of workers in workplace health and safety, build closer involvement between stakeholders and HSE and provide clearer and simple information and advice in a more accessible way. More information about the 2004 Strategy is available. You may also be interested in the later 2009 Strategy.

Morecambe Bay: death of cockle-pickers (21 fatalities)

An incident occurred on the night of 5-6 February 2004 when 35 cockle pickers, most of whom were Chinese, were cut off by the tide as they worked on the cockle banks on Morecambe Bay. It is thought that 23 of the workers died, although only 21 bodies were recovered. HSE inspectors joined with the police in a major investigation into the incident. The Crown Prosecution Service brought criminal charges of manslaughter and facilitation against a number of individuals. Following the incident, HSE produced some practical guidelines for safe working in tidal areas and estuaries. Some organisers of cockling work also introduced some improvements to their work processes including: providing protective clothing and high-visibility garments; using better vehicles; and carrying dinghies, lifejackets and life rafts.

HSE's Infoline service received its 2 millionth call

The HSE Infoline public enquiry contact centre took its two millionth call in September 2004. Run by the National Britannia Group based in Caerphilly, Infoline was set up in July 1996 to provide health and safety information and access to expert sources of guidance and advice. While Infoline's services are available to anyone with an interest in workplace health and safety matters, the majority of enquiries come from small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Enquirers can remain anonymous if they wish and all enquiries are treated confidentially. The most common queries relate to asbestos, the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) and health and safety requirements for setting up a new business.

[Update: In a move to improve efficiency further and deliver value for taxpayers, HSE's Infoline ended on 30 September 2011. See more about HSE's new arrangements for online reporting of injuries and incidents.]

HSC's 'Strategy for workplace health and safety to 2010 and beyond' launched

Explosion at ICL Plastic factory, Maryhill, Glasgow

An explosion occurred at the ICL Plastics factory in Maryhill, Glasgow on 11 May 2004. Nine people were killed in the incident and many more suffered injuries. The explosion occurred when liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) leaked from an underground metal pipe in the basement of the factory. The LPG ignited and the resulting explosion caused the building to collapse.

Lord Brian Gill was appointed to hold an Inquiry into the events that led up to the disaster. HSE inspectors and retired inspectors and the Chief Executive and the then Deputy Chief Executive gave evidence in the formal hearings. Lord Gill's report was published in July 2009 and outlined various recommendations for HSE as the body which (together with Local Authorities) regulates LPG hazards in industrial and commercial premises.


Buncefield explosion

A series of explosions occurred at the Buncefield Oil Storage Depot at Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire on 11th December 2005. A large area of the site was engulfed by a fire which resulted from one of the initial massive explosions. Although more than 50 people were injured in the incident, no-one died. A large area around the Buncefield site was evacuated as a precaution. Many of the commercial and residential properties in the vicinity were damaged in the incident. The fire, which burned for several days, destroyed most of the site and released large plumes of black smoke into the atmosphere. The Health and Safety Executive and the Environment Agency launched a joint investigation into the incident. Five companies were prosecuted as a result of the incident. A series of recommendations from HSE was published under the title "Recommendations on land use planning and the control of societal risk around major hazard sites" and the investigation culminated in the publication of the Final report in December 2008.


Transfer of responsibility for railway safety from HSE to the Office of the Rail Regulator

HSE assumed responsibility for railway safety in 1990 when the Railway Inspectorate moved from the Department of Transport. The move took place following criticism of the Inspectorate for not protecting passengers adequately and for not using modern risk assessment techniques. During the period 1993 to 1996, British Rail was privatised and over a hundred companies took charge of the railways. This resulted in a major change to railway safety culture and risk management. HSE introduced a new regulatory framework to manage these changes and the key elements of the framework included new safety case and permissioning regimes. On 1 April 2006 railway safety passed to the Office of Rail and Road (ORR). More information about HSE's role in regulating the health and safety of the railway industry can be found in 'A farewell to trains'.

Workplace Health Connect launched

Workplace Health Connect was launched in February 2006 as a two year project pilot project to give advice on workplace health, safety and return to work issues. The advice given by the pilot was free, confidential and practical and was aimed at small and medium sized businesses (ie those with between 5 to 250 workers) in England and Wales. Workplace Connect was managed, funded and quality controlled by HSE but was independently run. It incorporated an Adviceline, a problem-solving visit service and a system of referrals to approved local specialists where appropriate. The pilot ended in February 2008.

Redgrave Court new headquarters officially opened

HSE's new headquarters building, Redgrave Court, based in Bootle, Merseyside was officially opened by HRH the Duke of York on 19 July 2006. Redgrave Court has provided a central base for staff and contractors who previously occupied six separate buildings. It has enabled staff to undertake new and more efficient ways of working, allowed for better use of resources and provided increased access to senior managers. A map of all HSE offices is available on the HSE Website.


Responsibility for the Adventure Activities Licensing Authority (AALA) passes to HSE.

The Adventure Activities Licensing Authority (AALA) was launched in 1996 and became HSE's responsibility in 2007. The AALA controls the licensing regime for the provision of adventure activities for young people within the scope of the Adventure Activities Licensing Regulations 2004 (AALR). HSE's Field Operations and Policy Group work with organisations in this sector to provide guidance, advice and support and to improve health and safety. More information about the work of the AALA is available via the AALA web pages.

Construction (Design and Management) Regulations (CDM 2007) (S.I. 2007/320) launched.

The CDM Regulations combine the CDM Regulations 2004 and the Construction (Health Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1996 into one regulatory package, aimed at alleviating the previous complex and at times, bureaucratic approach taken by many duty holders. The aim of the CDM Regulations is to reduce the risk of harm to workers who build, use, maintain and demolish structures. Effective planning and management of construction projects, from design concept onwards is at the heart of the Regulations. The aim is for health and safety considerations to be treated as a normal part of a project's development, not an afterthought or bolt-on extra. Find out more about the CDM Regulations.

Bill Callaghan is knighted for his services to health and safety

Bill Callaghan became Chair of the Health and Safety Commission (HSC) on 1 October 1999. During his career with HSC and HSE, Bill Callaghan championed the sensible risk message, had a leading role in ensuring that risks to health and safety in the workplace are properly controlled and has played a key role in developing the HSC/E Strategy to 2010. In 2007 Bill Callaghan was knighted for his services to health and safety. He left HSE on 27 Sept 2007 and was replaced by Judith E. Hackitt CBE.

Judith Hackitt appointed as new Chair of the Health and Safety Commission, following on from the retirement of Sir Bill Callaghan

Judith Hackitt was appointed as Chair of the Health and Safety Commission (HSC) on 1 October 2007. Ms Hackitt's five year appointment follows on from her previous role as a Commissioner of HSC during the period 2002 – 2005 and an assignment as Director of the European Chemical Industry Council's Chemistry for Europe project.

HSE takes on responsibility for the security activities of the Office for Nuclear Security (OCNS) and UK Safeguards Office (UKSO)

On 1 April 2007 the security activities of the Office for Civil Nuclear Security (OCNS) transferred to the Health and Safety Executive. This happened as a result of recommendations in the 2005 Hampton report. This means that HSE's Nuclear Directorate became the single point of contact for operational matters relating to nuclear safety, security and safeguards. You can find out more about the work of OCNS from HSE's Nuclear Directorate web pages.

The Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) European Union regulations come into force in the UK and across Europe

The Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of CHemicals (REACH) Regulations came into force on 1 June 2007, replacing several Regulations and European directives with a single system. One of the main requirements of REACH is for importers or manufacturers of substances to register them with the central European Chemicals Agency. The aim of this is to ensure that human health and the environment is protected by ensuring that manufacturers and importers understand and manage the risks associated with chemicals. REACH also allows substances to move freely on the EU market as well as allowing for free competition and innovation in the European chemicals industry.

Responsibility for the Adventure Licensing Authority (AALA) passes to HSE.


HSC/HSE merges to form one organisation

The Health and Safety Commission and Health and Safety Executive took the decision to merge their powers and functions to become a new unitary body with the name 'Health and Safety Executive'. The merger took place following a 2006 consultation exercise setting out the benefits of the merger. For more information, read the HSC/E merger enforcement statement.

Health and Safety (Offences) Act 2008

The Health and Safety (Offences) Act 2008 came into force on 16 January 2009. Under the provisions of the Act, offenders who break the law will be subjected to higher fines and longer sentences. The Act makes imprisonment an option for more health and safety offences in both the lower and higher courts. It also allows certain offences which at one time could only be tried in lower courts, be tried in the higher courts. However the main change which the Act has brought is to raise the maximum fine which may be imposed in the lower courts to £20,000 for most health and safety offences.

Pesticides Safety Directorate transfers to HSE

The Pesticides Safety Directorate (PSD) transferred from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to HSE on 1 April 2008 following recommendations of the 2005 Hampton Review of Regulators. The transfer allowed PSD and HSE to explore joint areas of interest for example on regulatory science and policy for chemicals, pesticides, detergents and biocides. PSD has retained a distinct identity in HSE and continues to have its policy set by Defra. More information is available on the PSD website.


Gas Safe Register - 10 year contract to Capita

A new registration scheme for gas engineers was launched on 1 April 2009. The scheme is known as the Gas Safe Register and is administered under a 10 year contract by the Capita Group Plc. Under the Gas Safe Register, Capita have made a commitment to deliver improvements to gas safety by raising awareness of domestic gas risks among consumers and by increasing public confidence in registered gas engineers and the safety of public gas work. Gas engineers will also benefit from the Gas Safe Register as they will have more flexible payment and registration options. The administrative burdens on them will also be reduced.

Find out more about the Gas Safe Register.

Health and safety law poster replaced - after 10 years service!

A new version of the health and safety law poster was published on 6 April 2009. The poster includes a list of basic points relating to health and safety in the workplace and it outlines what employers and workers must do to comply with the law. The health and safety poster must be displayed in all workplaces or if this is not possible, each employee must be given a copy of the leaflet version. Information about how to obtain the law poster or leaflets is available on the HSE Website.

HSE launches strategy for the health and safety of GB

HSE's new Strategy was launched in 2009 following the aim of the new 2008 Board to develop a 'renewed momentum to improve health and safety performance.' One of the key drivers for this is the fact that the combined rate of illness and injury in Great Britain is the same as it was in 2004. The Board wanted to build on existing strengths, develop new ways of engaging with the workforce and meet continuing challenges for health and safety. The Strategy explains that everyone has a role to play in improving health and safety in the workplace but there must be strong leadership and commitment to drive this forward. Training is described as a key component of the improvement process. The Strategy also reinforces HSE's role in inspection and enforcement along with monitoring hazardous industries to guard against possible catastrophes.


Health and Safety Pledge Forum launched

The Health and Safety Pledge Forum was launched on 24 February 2010 as part of HSE's 2009 Strategy The Health and Safety of Great Britain\\ Be part of the solution.  The Strategy encouraged organisations to show their commitment to workplace health and safety by signing the HSE Safety Pledge. HSE is keen for those who have signed the Pledge to share ideas for improving health and safety with each other or to work with HSE on collaborative ventures in risk management. The Pledge Forum helps this process by allowing pledge signers to share ideas and best practice and ask questions. It also contains a wealth of information on a range of topics including: worker protection; absence management; saving recruitment and insurance costs; improving productivity; reputation management; and case studies for both small/medium sized businesses and large businesses.

HSE introduces new Safety Alerts

In 2010 HSE revised its Safety Bulletin system to improve the way it warns industry about problems with substances, equipment, procedures and processes that may cause injury. The information contained in the bulletins are gathered from a range of sources including inspections, research, investigations, advice from industry and the EU Commission. There are three types of bulletin: Alerts which are immediate and vital; Notice which do not require immediate action but must be dealt with within a given timescale; and Other information which needs to be shared with a wide audience or specific group or sector of industry. Safety Bulletins can be received via email, text message or RSS feed and are also available on the HSE Website. To check the Safety Bulletin titles that are available to you and sign up for those of interest, please visit the Health and Safety Bulletins sign up page.

The Control of Artificial Optical Radiation at Work Regulations 2010 (S.I. 2010/1140)

The Control of Artificial Optical Radiation at Work Regulations 2010 aim to protect workers from health risks associated with exposure to hazardous sources of artificial optical radiation (AOR). The Regulations require employers who may expose workers to AOR to assess the risk of adverse health effects of AOR to the skin or eyes. This assessment should include measurements or calculations for the levels of radiation to which employees are exposed. It must also assess the level, wavelength and duration of exposure. Employers are require to reduce or eliminate exposure to AOR where practicable, provide appropriate information and training for employees and ensure that exposed employees have their health monitored and receive medical examinations. HSE has produced 'Guidance for Employers on the Control of Artificial Optical Radiation at Work Regulations (AOR) 2010' for those employers who would like to find out more about their responsibilities under the Regulations.

Lord Young's review of health and safety, 'Common Sense – Common Safety' is published

Lord Young's report was published on 15 October 2010 and sets out a series of recommendations for improving the way health and safety is applied in Great Britain and for reviewing today's 'compensation culture'. The review, commissioned by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, has a wider remit than HSE's sphere of responsibility, however HSE has welcomed Lord Young's review and has continued to offer information and participate in improvements where appropriate. To this end, HSE has co-operated with a number of organisations to develop the Occupational Safety Consultants Register (OSCR). This will go live in January 2011. HSE has also produced a series of risk assessment tools for offices, shops, classrooms and charity shops.


Occupational Safety Consultants Register (OSHCR)

The Occupational Safety Consultants Register (OSHCR) provides a source for identifying consultants who are qualified to provide general advice on health and safety to help UK businesses manage workplace risks. While many companies will feel confident about carrying out their own workplace risk assessments and implementing appropriate health and safety measures, those who need additional help can turn to OSHCR. The consultants listed in OSHCR are recognised by the key occupational health and safety organisations who participate in the OSHCR scheme. OSHCR can be used to search for consultants by keyword, industry, topic, county or by provision of free information.

The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) launched 1 April

On 1 April 2011, the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) was established as an agency of the Health and Safety Executive. ONR's objective is to consolidate the functions of HSE's Nuclear Directorate including the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate, the Office for Civil Nuclear Security and the UK Safeguards Office, as well as the Department for Transport's Radioactive Materials Transport Division. ONR is responsible for protecting people from the hazards inherent in the nuclear industry. It does this through enforcing relevant legislation and by encouraging the nuclear industry to aspire to an exemplary health and safety culture. ONR uses specialist advice from HSE and consultants and runs a nuclear safety studies programme to help it with inspection and assessment work. It also provides specialist assistance to various international energy organisations as well as nuclear regulators in a range of countries.

HSL celebrates 100 years

The Health and Safety Laboratory (HSL) celebrated its centenary this year. HSL is a leading scientific health and safety research organisation specialising in work-related activities. It is based in Buxton and its origins can be traced back to a 1911 Government-funded initiative aimed at investigating explosions in coal mines. The Safety in Mines Research Board was formed 10 years later and its work was conducted in both Buxton and Sheffield. Over the next few years the Buxton site became the Explosion and Flame Laboratory while the Sheffield site focussed on safety engineering. The Occupational Medicine and Hygiene Laboratory in Cricklewood, North London joined the existing research teams in 1966. In 1995 the three laboratories were combined together to form HSL, as an agency of HSE. HSL moved to Buxton in 2004.

Lőfstedt report published

Professor Ragnar Lőfstedt's report: 'Reclaiming health and safety for all: an independent review of health and safety legislation' was published in November 2011. The report was commissioned by Employment Minister Chris Grayling as part of the Government's plan to overhaul the health and safety system in Britain. The report considers ways in which health and safety legislation can be combined, simplified or reduced so that the burden on British businesses can be alleviated. At the same time, it suggests how progress in improving health and safety in the workplace can continue. The report takes into account the views of employers' and employees' organisations, Government bodies, academics and professional health and safety organisations.


The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 (S.I. 2012/632) launched

The Regulations came into force in April 2012 and updated earlier asbestos regulations to take account of the fact that in the European Commission's view, the UK had not completely implemented the EU Directive on exposure to asbestos as set out in EU Directive 2009/148/EC). The changes brought about by the new Regulations are fairly small and mostly affect some types of non-licensed work with asbestos including medical surveillance, record keeping and notification of work.

Fee for Intervention (FFI) launched 1 October

HSE's new cost recovery scheme known as Fee for Intervention (FFI) came into force on 1 October 2012. FFI is administered under the Health and Safety (Fees) Regulations 2012 and is used to recover HSE's costs against those who contravene health and safety laws. The costs that are recouped in this way are those for inspection, investigation and taking enforcement action. FFI is designed to ensure that companies who break health and safety laws quickly put matters right. It will also discourage companies who try to undercut their competitors by flouting health and safety laws and putting people at risk. More information about FFI is available on the Fee for Intervention (FFI) web pages.


The Health and Safety (Sharp Instruments in Healthcare) Regulations (S.I. 2013/645)

The Health and Safety (Sharp Instruments in Healthcare) Regulations 2013 (S.I. 2013/645) which came into effect on 11 May 2013, require employers to ensure that the risks from needles and other 'sharps' used in healthcare are effectively controlled.  The regulations stipulate that healthcare employers and contractors must provide suitable arrangements for the safe use and disposal of sharps and must train workers to understand the risks. In addition, the Regulations require employers and contactors to investigate any work-related incidents involving sharps, and to take appropriate action.

Health and Safety (Miscellaneous Repeals, Revocations and Amendments) Regulations 2013 (S.I. 2013/448)

The Health and Safety (Miscellaneous Repeals, Revocations and Amendments) Regulations 2013 (S.I. 2013/448) came into force on 6 April 2013. These Regulations are designed to revoke a series of redundant and / or out of date legislation, including one Act and twelve statutory instruments. HSE has introduced these Regulations as part of a process of ensuring that employers can quickly understand their duty to provide a safe and healthy working environment for employees.