Freedom Of Information Act 2000 (FOIA)
The FOIA provides open access to information held by public authorities. The Act covers any recorded information that is held by a public authority in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and by UK-wide public authorities based in Scotland. HSE is a UK-wide public authority and is therefore not covered by the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.
What would be considered under FOIA
In accordance with the FOIA, HSE’s default position is to favor disclosure but only where it is lawful to do so. Examples of requests that may be considered for release under the FOIA include (but not limited to):
- Information relating to HSE’s fiscal performance (that is not already detailed in the Annual Report)
- Details of contractual relationships between HSE and third parties
- Allocation of resources within HSE
- Science and research reports
- Policy development
- Statistical data (not already publicly available)
HSE will carefully consider each request to determine whether the application of exemptions and the public interest test under the FOIA are appropriate.
Further guidance on FOIA Exemptions and how they can be applied by public authorities can be found on the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) website.
Requests relating to workplace health and safety incidents
Requests relating to specific workplace health and safety incidents (e.g. fatalities, injuries, and ill health), will in the first instance be considered under the FOIA. This will give us the opportunity to determine;
- Whether HSE is the enforcing authority for the incident in question
- Whether HSE has investigated the incident
- What information (if any) HSE is likely to hold about the incident
Where HSE hold little or no information regarding the incident, we will respond to the Requester informing them of this outcome within the statutory deadline.
Where there are relevant records held by HSE in relation to the incident, HSE will typically consider the application of FOIA exemptions. Depending on the circumstances of the case, this will include (but not limited to) Section 30 (investigations and proceedings), Section 31 (law enforcement), Section 40 (personal information) and Section 41 (information provided in confidence). This may result in HSE withholding some, or all, of the information being sought.
In such circumstances, HSE’s response will direct the Requester to guidance on how to gain access to the information they require using the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) as an alternative disclosure gateway to the FOIA. This facility is currently only available in England and Wales.
How long will it take?
The FOIA requires HSE to respond to requests within 20 working days. HSE will strive to deliver your response within this deadline. Where this is not possible, we will inform you in writing, providing a clear reason for the delay and a revised target delivery date.
What will it cost?
HSE will not seek to recover costs for requests handled under the FOIA. Instead, HSE will apply a 24 working hour limit to each request. This means that any request taking more than 24 working hours (or 3 full days) to locate, retrieve and extract the requested information will be refused. In such instances, you will be invited to refine your request.
We may however seek administration costs if necessary. Please see HSE FOI charging policy for further detail.
How do I make a request?
You can request information by email or post – how to make a request.