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    REGULATOR STRATEGY FOR 21st CENTURY

    New GB health and safety strategy published for consultation

     

    HSE has published a strategy for consultation entitled: ‘The Health and Safety of Great Britain: Be Part of the Solution’. This is driven by: stalled improvement in GB performance; rise in the number of SMEs /self-employed; risks posed by new sectors and; a need to regain the H&S brand. The consultation period finishes on 2 March 2009. The strategy is intended to reset the direction for H&S in the 21st century and has a number of goals:

    • Investigation – for prevention and securing justice;
    • Leadership – encouraging strong leadership and championing common sense;
    • Competence – building competence of those delivering workplace H&S;
    • Targeting – greater targeting of sectors, issues and ‘risk profiling’
    • Worker Involvement – promoting the benefits of worker involvement;
    • Smaller Businesses – customising support for SMEs to help them comply;
    • Major Hazards – avoiding catastrophes in high hazard industries and;
    • Bigger Picture – taking account of the wider issues that impact on H&S.

    Comment: The proposals are more ‘evolution’ rather than ‘revolution’ and contain little that is not already part of the existing HSE strategy. However, there may be a number of specific implications for the construction sector:

    1. Leadership: from the top of organisations is headlined. HSE will be under pressure to demonstrate that a ‘voluntary’ approach to securing greater boardroom/director leadership and accountability is working. All organisations involved in construction projects need to test themselves against the HSE Leadership Guidance.
    2. Competence: is a specific goal. This is aimed at ensuring organisations have the right amount and calibre of H&S assistance in the form of specialists and well trained line managers. CDM requirements regarding competence throughout organisations and supply chains will probably come under close scrutiny;
    3. Workforce Involvement: the emphasis is on worker engagement in all sectors. Parts of the construction sector are already using ‘behavioural safety’ initiatives to supplement more traditional employee engagement tools. HSE will probably look even more closely at how well the CDM 2007 employee consultation requirements are being implemented; 
    4. Risk Profiling: this is a new phrase in the lexicon. It suggests HSE will be expecting organisations to examine their hazards and risk in more detail and thereby focus attention where it is most needed. No doubt HSE will do likewise with their resources;
    5. Smaller Businesses: The strategy suggests that SMEs do not find ‘goal setting’ legislation helpful. This heralds a move towards more specific HSE advice aimed directly at the smaller construction related businesses.

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