HSE to remain a non-departmental public body

A Government consultation has concluded that the Health and Safety Executive is fulfilling its role and should therefore remain a non-departmental public body.

The review, which began in June 2013, came as part of the Government’s commitment to review all public bodies every 3 years.

Respondents maintained that the HSE was competently discharging its duty as an independent enforcement body to help companies implement health and safety.

But a number of concerns were raised over the introduction of the Fee for Intervention regime (FFI) which came into force back in October 2012.

These regulations place a duty on the HSE to recover costs for carrying out its regulatory functions from those found to be in material breach of health and safety law.

Garry Graham, deputy general secretary of Union Prospect, said: “The review rightly raises concerns about the new FFI model, which links the regulator’s funding to its income from ‘fines’, calling it a ‘dangerous’ model that has potentially damaged the HSE’s reputation for acting impartially and independently.”

Work-related ill health

The report also tabled recommendations surrounding work-related ill health, urging the HSE to deploy new innovative ideas such as media campaigns to reach the right audiences.

TUC general secretary, Frances O’Grady, welcomed the report’s findings.

“The report is supportive of bringing together unions, employers and Government to deal with health and safety issues. We are concerned, however, that the Government’s implementation of some of its recommendations could undermine this approach,” she said.

“It is important that unions and employers continue to play an equal role in the way the HSE operates.”

Ms O’Grady added: “There was huge support from all those who responded to the review for the work of the HSE as a public body. We believe that, given the scale of injury and illness across UK workplaces, the Government should not undermine the ability of the HSE to meet that challenge.”

The HSE, which was created by the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, is responsible for the encouragement, regulation and enforcement of workplace health, safety and welfare in England, Wales and Scotland.

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