HSE Funding Cuts Revealed
Following on from our news last week of a sharp drop in the number of unannounced inspections of construction sites in the UK, we’ve just learned that the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is set to have its funding cut by more than £100 million by 2019 – 2020. This is not welcome news for us in the British construction industry – we know that the exemplary work carried out by the HSE has made a huge difference in improving health and safety at work statistics.
The HSE’s Business Plan for 2016 – 2017 shows that there will be a total reduction since 2009 – 2010 of a massive 46%. The Business Plan sets out the HSE’s objectives for the coming year reveals that the money that the HSE receives from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) will decrease each year throughout the current parliament and the Executive will be receiving £123.4 million in 2019 – 2020, compared with £231 million in 2009 – 2010.
According to the report, the HSE’ budget for 2016 – 2017 will be £141 million while the income it generates will stand at £94 million – this includes money from fees and licensing, including Fee for Intervention (FFI). The HSE is committed to maintaining current levels of its core regulatory activities including permissioning, inspections, investigations and enforcement. The HSE is hoping to make a significant contribution to government plans to reduce the cost of regulatory compliance by £10 billion by the end of the parliament by simplifying the regulations governing the use of chemicals. The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations, the Control of Lead at Work Regulations and the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations will all undergo simplification.
According to HSE sources, its priorities in 2016 – 2017 will include communication with SMEs, work related ill health, refreshing and publishing its sector strategies and identification of and engagement with significant initiatives that are linked to the theme of “Helping Great Britain Work Well”. A further priority will be to develop a revised approach to creating and publishing guidance to make sure that it is proportionate, meets the requirements of users and makes the best use of digital channels.
The HSE Business Plan also covers the HSE’s intentions in 2016 – 2017, outlining its commitment to the following activities:
- Making sure that the regulatory framework remains effective and that the HSE delivers the government’s regulatory reform agenda and Business Improvement Target.
- Leading and engaging those who deal with or influence health and safety at work issues, aiming to change behaviour via guidance, raising awareness and leadership.
- Reducing the likelihood of low-frequency, high impact catastrophic incidents and the potential for extensive harm to both workers and the public.
- Securing effective risk management and control via a range of interventions with businesses. This will include permissioning and licensing activities, inspections, investigations of incidents and considering the concerns raised by workers and others. This will also include holding to account those who fail to meet their obligations to protect people from harm.
While the cut in funding for the HSE is a worrying factor for all industries here in the UK, as a sector that regularly requires work at height and work with hazardous substances and equipment, this is a particular worry for the construction industry as a whole.