What You Need To Know About The UK Health And Safety Executive

What You Need To Know About The UK Health And Safety Executive

15th January 2014

Despite the turn of a brand new century and the fact that in the UK we think of ourselves as one of the most progressive societies on this planet, fatalities in the work place are still not a thing of the past.  According to the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) a massive 591,000 employees had an accident at work in 2011 – 2012 resulting in injury and absence from work.  Employers in Britain reported 114,000 injuries to workers with 24,000 of these being classed as minor injuries.  Shockingly, many of these incidents could have been avoided if the correct access equipment (such as ladders and safety steps) had been available.  These figures demonstrate just how important it is for business owners to provide their employees with the correct equipment that will enable them to work without risk of injury.

Most employers in the UK fully understand their duty and responsibilities towards the people they employ.  There are strict rules and regulations in place in the UK governing safety in the work place and employers up and down the land are eager to comply with these regulations – they understand that the right to work in safety is an obligation that is their responsibility to ensure.  However, a small number of business owners just cannot see beyond the need to make a profit and may be willing to compromise the health and safety of their employees in order to cut costs and maximise their income.  These employers are rare in the UK and this type of attitude towards employees is fast becoming a thing of the past.  The HSE has worked long and hard to make sure that Britain is a safe country in which to work and earn a living.

The HSE first came about with the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and has progressed to encompass earlier regulatory bodies such as the Factory Inspectorate.  It is the body responsible for the encouragement, regulation and enforcement of workplace health, safety and welfare and also for research into occupational risks in England, Scotland and Wales.  The HSE is sponsored by the Department of Work and Pensions and has its headquarters in Liverpool.  Another of the responsibilities on the HSE is the investigation of industrial accidents both large and small and this includes major incidents (like the Stockline Plastics factory explosion in 2004 and the fire at Buncefield in 2005).  The Executive is obliged to make sure the Secretary of State is informed of its plans in order to assure alignment with policies.  The HSE also administers the Occupational Safety and Health Consultants Register (OSHCR) which is a register of safety consultants in the UK.

Despite criticism that its procedures may not be adequate to protect safety, the HSE denies these claims and for quite some time, it published a “Myth of the Month” section on its website to dispel various misconceptions about health and safety.

The HSE focuses on the regulation of health and safety in a wide range of sectors of industry, including construction, engineering, dock work and the chemical manufacture and storage industries.