The Triennial Review of the Health and Safety Executive was published on 9th January 2014 causing many commentators to highlight the recommendation concerning the HSE inspection charging regime – Fee for Intervention (FFI).
The Department for Work and Pensions Minister (DWP) Mike Penning MP has issued a written statement welcoming the recommendations and stating that Government wishes to “go further to introduce reforms” and that ”there is considerable potential for HSE to become more commercial in outlook and in delivery”.
In the full written statement the Minister says:
“I am pleased to announce the conclusion of the Review and publication of Mr Temple’s report later today.
HSE is an Executive Non-Departmental Public Body (NDPB). It is the national, independent regulator for work-related safety and health. Its mission is the prevention of death, injury and ill-health to those at work and those affected by work activities. The review has concluded that the functions performed by HSE are still required and that it should be retained as a NDPB. Mr Temple has recommended that HSE build on its well-deserved international reputation and makes more progress to grow its commercial income.
I welcome these recommendations, but want to go further to introduce reforms of HSE to ensure that it delivers value for money to the taxpayer, whilst ensuring safety for the nation. There is considerable potential for HSE to become more commercial in outlook and in delivery – increasing the pace of the work already started within the organisation.
Therefore, I have asked HSE to begin work immediately to examine commercial models for HSE in collaboration with HMT and Cabinet office, and to review the HSE Board to ensure it has the right skills to oversee future efficiencies and commercial income generating options. Some of the other recommendations require further consideration and therefore the Government will respond more fully later this year.
I will place a copy of the report of the Triennial Review of HSE in the House library later today.”
IOSH concern over HSE ‘commercialisation’
The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) welcomed the report conclusions and “nearly universal praise” for the regulator.
However, IOSH is concerned there is no general recommendation to increase HSE funding, and that the Government is now seeking to go beyond the limited and qualified recommendations on its reform and commercialisation.
IOSH head of policy and public affairs Richard Jones said:
“This review is an overwhelmingly positive endorsement of the work and professionalism of the HSE, which is acknowledged across the world.
We note the report recognises that although HSE has dealt stoically with severe budget cuts, more are on the way. It also recognises funding pressures on local authorities as co-regulators, the problems with Fees for Intervention, and the ‘near universal agreement’ that HSE should do more on health.
However, despite highlighting these serious areas for attention, disappointingly the review fails to recommend further funding, other than by commercial means.”
Mr Jones said IOSH was concerned the Government was set to go further than recommended on commercialising HSE, despite a range of questions hanging over the move, including how this may conflict with its regulatory role.