What future for the HSE?

What future for the HSE?

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The HSE have recently launched a new strategy called “Helping Great Britain work well”. It has six themes – Acting together; tackling ill health; managing risk well; supporting small employers; keeping pace with change and sharing our success. 

There is nothing there that many people will disagree with and some of it, such as tackling ill-health and keeping track with change, are things that the TUC has been arguing that the HSE should be doing more of for many years.

But how is the HSE going to achieve these things? It is OK saying that we have to “act together”, but the HSE has a unique role. It advises on regulation, it develops policy and it (along with local authorities), enforces.

In recent years there has been a massive fall in all of these functions. The most noticeable one has been in inspections where numbers have fallen, although the biggest fall has been in the local authority sector (over 95% in five years).

But the decline in new regulation to keep up to date with the world of work is also pretty worrying. There have been no improvements in the VDU regulations to take into account the massive technological changes in the past 20 years, nothing on stress, and nothing on manual handling. The same is the case with guidance, where the HSE has withdrawn a huge swath of guidance or turned it over to industry rather than update it. Often because they simply do not have the resources to deal with these issues in-house.

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