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CONSTRUCTION AND THE NEW HSE STRATEGY

HSE challenges construction industry to ‘Be part of the solution’

The new HSE strategy was published today (3 June 2009) as a survey revealed that 25% of businesses report pressure to cut spending on health and safety. The strategy was launched by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions James Purnell and the HSE Chair, Judith Hackitt. 

Ms Hackitt said: “HSE is not, and never will be, ‘the fun police’. Our new strategy shows the way towards a common sense attitude to health and safety. As regulators, our approach to businesses will be proportionate to the risk they present and their approach to managing it.”

Stakeholders are being asked to sign an online pledge including agreeing to play their part in reducing the number of work related deaths.

Comment: Our assessment of the likely implications for those involved with construction projects is as follows:

  • Investigation: expect a continuing and robust regime of inspection and investigation. The strategy makes it clear that enforcement action will be taken where appropriate;
  • Leadership: inspectors will be looking for evidence of clear and strong leadership from construction boardrooms and managers;
  • Competence: all dutyholders must have access to competent H&S assistance. In addition, HSE indicate that they wish to see greater emphasis on ‘coaching’ to raise the competence of directors, managers and workers to determine what is sensible and reasonable;
  • Workforce: involvement of workers in genuine partnerships with management to help solved problems jointly is expected. Compliance with CDM 2007 Regulation 24 duty on workforce involvement may come under greater scrutiny;
  • Risk Profiling: HSE is looking for dutyholders to set priorities based on ‘risk profiling’ (identifying groups most at risk/scale of injury or ill health) and subsequent targeting of resources more accurately. Where issues prove resistent to change the stratgey seeks to encourage innovative ways of tackling such problems;
  • Small Businesses and Sites: new ways will be adopted by HSE to help construction SME’s and smaller projects to understand how to secure health and safety in ways proportionate to the risk. There will be much greater free access to HSE published guidance.

The findings of the Government Inquiry into Construction Fatalities are due to be published later in June 2009. The recommendations are likely to drive forward the construction health and safety agenda over the next 2 years. It is expected that the inquiry may also provide a boost to the priority given to managing ill-health risks.

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