The objectives as stated within the review were to, “consider the form and function of HSE in relation to its ability to fulfil its purpose and objectives and whether it is still required as a public body, followed by a consideration of its effectiveness as an organisation in relation to four areas; Efficacy, Efficiency Governance, and Accountability.”
As well as covering organisational culture (around how the management of change is governed and embraced), financial reporting processes, pay reform changes, and multi-agency/department collaborations, other recommendations included:
- That the Government should consider the organisational status of HSE and whether a Non-Ministerial Department model is a more appropriate delivery model;
- Together with DWP/DHSC Work and Health Unit, HSE will look to develop specific initiatives in the work-related health and wellbeing space;
- An updated overarching communication strategy is developed identifying how HSE intends to target, and the best methods of communication with, different groups of stakeholders. Also, how it engages with duty holders in specialist areas looking at clarifying communications and processes relating to requests for the reconsideration of inspector decisions;
- To improve its website in terms of look and accessibility; and
- Plans to develop the HSL site at Buxton and the feasibility of “establishing a National Centre of Excellence” for research and development into the safe implementation of Net Zero fuels.
The review also recognised the HSE has an extremely broad remit, yet “a substantial efficiency challenge” – a 5% reduction of its overall budget by 2024/25 – from the 2021 Spending Review.
The increased focus on work-related health and wellbeing is a welcome one, although this has already been recognised and targeted by HSE for several years. With current trends showing workplace injuries reducing but health – and mental health in particular increasing – it must be a priority.
I have always found the website, accessibility notwithstanding, a great reference tool and relatively simple to navigate. In terms of interactions, while I am not a duty holder in a specialist area, again I have overall found all contact to be professional and useful.
It is also no little of a paradox to me that at a time when we are seeing the biggest changes in some time to the regulatory landscape (through the Fire Safety Act 2021 and Building Safety Act 2022) that the Building Safety Regulator charged with overseeing and enforcing these is the HSE. True you are less likely now (intervention strategies notwithstanding) to see an inspector unless something has gone wrong – but that is the same with local authorities.
We need effective regulatory control if we are going to continue to benefit from the very high standards of health and safety we generally see in the UK. Recognising that the regulator charged with delivering this needs the appropriate resources for their job is, for me, fundamental to the process. Let’s hope these changes, if and when implemented, have this in mind too.
The full review document can be found at: Public Bodies review of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)