Public services - Frequently asked questions

These FAQs help illustrate the nature of some of the issues that HSE routinely gives advice on. Further FAQs are provided on the pages devoted to each individual public service.


Does health and safety result in an overly cautious response by the emergency services?

There has been concern about how HSE will apply health and safety law to the operational circumstances of the emergency services. Because of this HSE has worked with senior police officers, fire and rescue services and other leaders to clarify how these services can strike the balance between their operational and health and safety duties. The result of this collaboration is set out in two statements of principles to help police and fire and rescue services understand how they can comply with health and safety requirements to safeguard the health and safety of the public and their own staff while providing effective emergency services.

Should schools remove all the asbestos in their buildings to prevent children's lives being put at risk?

HSE's advice remains that as long as asbestos is managed in compliance with the legal requirements and according to HSE's own published guidance there is no significant risk in leaving it in place. Asbestos which is in good condition and unlikely to be damaged is not a significant risk to health and is better left in place and managed. Asbestos which is in poor condition, or which is likely to be damaged or disturbed should be sealed, enclosed or removed.

Who regulates health and safety in the health and social care sector?

HSE is the national independent regulator for health and safety in the workplace. This includes private or publicly owned health and social care settings in Great Britain. We work in partnership with our co-regulators to inspect, investigate and where necessary take enforcement action. There are many other bodies responsible for regulating different aspects of these sectors, many of whom have more specific powers and legislation than HSE and may therefore be in a better position to respond to patient or service user incidents or complaints.

Updated: 2021-05-04