The British Safety Council has welcomed the publication by the Department for Work and Pensions of the report on the Triennial Review of the Health and Safety Executive, led by Martin Temple, chair of the EEF. Having submitted evidence to the review, the British Safety Council noted that government had acknowledged the importance of the role played by 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 Temple set out a series of recommendations in a number of areas which he considered would assist HSE in delivering its functions with greater efficiency and effectiveness concerning funding and income, delivery, commercial options and its relationships with other regulators.
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 we need a properly resourced, expert and independent regulator. We welcome the government's acknowledgement of the continuing need for HSE to help to achieve that goal. That view was overwhelmingly supported by our more than 6000 corporate members. We note that Temple highlighted concerns over the recently introduced cost recovery scheme, 'Fee for Intervention' (FFI). Many of these concerns reflect the views of our members we submitted to the review so we welcome the recommendations concerning the planned review of FFI to be expanded to examine these issues.”
Botha continued: “In his report Temple acknowledges that 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 and Temple's view that HSE must embrace innovation and efficiency to make the most of the money it receives. However, we must be realistic about what more HSE can realistically do with its finite resources. In principle we support the overall approach that the Temple report recommended concerning the potential for HSE to become more commercial in outlook and delivery. However there are dangers in over-commercialising HSE's functions and increased public service involvement in a market which is already well provided for. We recognise that some 40% of HSE's current expenditure is already covered by the income it generates.
“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.”
Botha concluded: “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 HSE in actively reviewing the regulatory performance of local authorities we had hoped to see a more detailed consideration of bringing together the regulation and enforcement of workplace health under one roof. While the review has been completed and the report presented as Temple sets out there are a number of very important areas that need further more detailed examination, for example FFI and the development of more robust metrics to measure the effectiveness and efficiency of HSE. The British Safety Council looks forward, working with its member organisations, to playing its part in the considerable amount of work that needs to be done in taking the Temple review recommendations forward.”