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British Safety Council welcomes Temple report

British Safety Council

Safety organization supports findings of Triennial Review of the Health and Safety Executive

THE British Safety Council has welcomed publication by the Department for Work and Pensions of the report on the Triennial Review of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) led by Martin Temple, chair of EEF (formerly known as the Engineering Employers’ Federation).

Having submitted evidence to the review, the British Safety Council noted that government had acknowledged the importance of the role played by the HSE as the national independent regulator and that its functions in preventing death, injury and ill-health to those at work were still required, and that its status as a non-Departmental public body should be retained.

In his report Mr Temple set out a series of recommendations in a number of areas which he considered would assist the HSE in delivering its functions with greater efficiency and effectiveness concerning funding and income, delivery, commercial options and its relationships with other regulators.

Responding to the report, Alex Botha, chief executive of the British Safety Council, said: ‘The British Safety Council believes that in order for Great Britain to continue to be effective in preventing workplace injuries and work-related ill-health, a properly resourced, expert and independent regulator is needed. We welcome the Government’s acknowledgement of the continuing need for the HSE to help to achieve that goal. That view was overwhelmingly supported by our 6,000-plus corporate members.’

He continued: ‘We note that Mr Temple highlighted concerns over the recently introduced ‘Fee for Intervention’ (FFI) cost-recovery scheme. Many of these concerns reflect the views of our members which we submitted to the review, so we welcome the recommendation that the planned review of FFI be expanded to examine these issues.

‘In his report Mr Temple acknowledges that the HSE’s funding from government has fallen significantly over the last 10 years and that it is likely to continue reducing. We fully endorse the Government’s and Mr Temple’s view that the HSE must embrace innovation and efficiency to make the most of the money it receives. However, we must be realistic about what more the HSE can realistically do with its finite resources.

‘In principle, we support the overall approach that the Temple report recommended concerning the potential for the HSE to become more commercial in outlook and delivery. However, there are dangers in over-commercializing the HSE’s functions and increased public service involvement in a market which is already well provided for. We recognize that some 40% of the HSE’s current expenditure is already covered by the income it generates,’ said Mr Botha.

He continued: ‘On governance, we believe that the tripartite structure of the HSE board has helped contribute to its credibility and effectiveness over the last 40 years. Though particular skills and experience need to be better reflected in the composition of the HSE board, particularly as it further develops its commercial activity, it is vitally important that the views of those undertaking work activities, both employers and employees, are properly represented.

‘The British Safety Council, in its evidence to the Temple review, expressed its concerns about a reduction in resources that many local authorities were devoting to the regulation of workplace health and safety. While the review made clear the important role played by the HSE in actively reviewing the regulatory performance of local authorities, we had hoped to see a more detailed consideration of the bringing together of the regulation and enforcement of workplace health under one roof.’

Mr Botha concluded: ‘While the review has been completed and the report presented, as Mr Temple sets out, there are a number of very important areas that need further, more detailed examination, eg FFI and the development of more robust metrics to measure the effectiveness and efficiency of the HSE. The British Safety Council looks forward, working with its member organizations, to playing its part in the considerable amount of work that needs to be done in taking the Temple review recommendations forward.’

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