Health & Safety Strategy

RoSPA's Response to Health and Safety Executive's Strategy Consultation

Conclusion

RoSPA supports the HSE’s wider vision of a strategy for the whole of the H&S system in the UK but further work is needed to ensure closer working between HSE and other parts of the system. Obviously, this is not without its challenges and risks – but in RoSPA’s view that is not a reason to hesitate in exploring what could be achieved by such an approach. Indeed, the case for harnessing the energy of the wider H&S community is now so compelling that any attempt by HSE to remain neutral or at best agnostic about the extent and impact of what others are doing could seriously damage their credibility.

As a first step therefore in following up the strategy consultation HSE should create a suitably comprehensive (but consensual) map of the wider H&S delivery landscape, again seeking views of key players on the space they occupy within it and the role they play. The map obviously needs to include the roles of key actors such as employers’ organisations and trades unions but it also needs to cover the roles of clients, insurers, consultants, trainers, standards setters, professional bodies, local groups and networks, equipment suppliers, campaigners, technical and specialist press and many, many others. This needs to be followed up with independent evaluation of many of the services currently on offer to employers, such as management systems certification, behavioural safety programmes, Elearning, induction training, H&S passporting etc. While the choice about use of such services must remain with duty holders, many employers need help to enable them to make good choices, invest wisely and not waste precious resources on solutions which are inappropriate or disproportionate to their real needs.

In short the ‘new dynamic’ between HSE and other key players has to be about ‘making the market work’ and creating effective synergies between the work of the regulator and other H&S actors, be they internal like professional H&S advisers and safety reps or external such as consultants, trainers or specialist service providers. With the demise of the Health and Safety Commission and its replacement by an Executive Board, there also needs to be a revisiting of options for bring key players together at a national level, including, for example, the idea of a ‘national implementation group’ of key organisations, keeping the focus on innovation and partnership working. (This model works well in other areas of government.)

Finally, closer working with others in the H&S safety field is not a cheap option or a means for HSE to cope with its current shortfall in resources. To deliver their full potential the approaches being advocated in this submission will require significant extra work and additional resources. The prize to be won however is not only a significant reduction in needless harm and easily preventable suffering but significant saving of wasted resources for both businesses, Government and the wider community.

RoSPA remains eager to help deliver the strategy. Annexe two sets out a series of concrete proposals for action.

Roger Bibbings, Workplace Safety Adviser, RoSPA
23rd February 2009

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