RoSPA, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, is pleased that the recommendations and conclusions to the UK law review mirrored some of the points it made when providing evidence to the review, and that the government review concluded that the HSE should be preserved to prevent fatal accidents at work, personal injuries and industrial diseases.
The charity said it particularly favors maintaining the HSE’s functions as the lead organization for the development of guidance and standards, the promotion of research into health and safety, and the liaison with other organizations to improve public health by raising skills and competencies in accident prevention.
RoSPA Occupational Safety Advisor Roger Bibbings said the organization is pleased that the review was unequivocal in its support for retaining the HSE as a non-departmental public body (NDPB) that will work at arm’s-length from the government and will regulate workplace safety and health issues.
He argued that the review team, led by Martin Temple, chairman for the Engineering Employers’ Federation, has actually come up with a series of recommendations that could improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the HSE
Some of the conclusions of the triennial UK law review include:
– Ending the ‘Fee for Intervention’ cost-recovery process, which has damaged business’ relationships with, and perceptions of, workplace safety inspectors
– Developing closer links between the HSE, local authorities and government departments
– Developing a new approach to understand the impact and performance of the HSE
– Recommending enhancing the HSE board’s effectiveness
– Using new media in a smarter way to improve communication with small and medium-sized enterprises
– Increasing the enforcement process’ speed
– Providing the HSE with an increased focus on workplace health damage
– Giving the HSE a more active role in the European Union
The review also recommended opposing the privatization of the HSE – providing the health and safety body with a profit motive may see its effectiveness and independence suffer. Nonetheless, Minister of State for the Department for Work and Pensions Minister Mike Penning said in a written Parliamentary statement that there is “considerable potential” for the HSE to take a more commercial approach to both its delivery and its outlook.
He confirmed that he has asked the HSE to look into its commercial opportunities, and that the government is to respond to the HSE’s conclusions later in 2014.
This meant that although the results of the UK law review into the HSE were largely welcomed, its response to this review provoked criticism. Construction union UCATT called the plans for commercialization “disgusting”, with General Secretary Steve Murphy claiming workers will be “sickened” by these proposals.
The Institute of Employment Rights said that while Mr Temple said the HSE should remain a NDPB, Mr Penning’s statements indicate that some kind of privatization will occur in the immediate future, and that the UK law review’s conclusions will be “largely ignored”.
Carol Smith has spent years looking into hospital negligence compensation, personal injury cases and other forms of mistreatment and poor service in the healthcare setting for a team of personal injury solicitors Burnley.