Health and safety rethink to raise employer awareness

The Health and Safety Executive is to unveil a new strategy for workplace health and safety in the UK in December, at the same time as calls are growing for a major overhaul of how the body operates and regulates businesses, Health and Safety Executive chairwoman Judith Hackitt revealed at a conference in September run by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health.

Hackitt told delegates the strategy would look at clarifying “the roles of the regulated, the regulator, the workforce” and others affected by health and safety.

She also conceded that the perception of health and safety needed to be improved in the eyes of both employers and the general public.

“There is a need to draw a clear distinction between real health and safety – stopping people getting killed – and jobsworths who shamelessly use ‘elf and safety’ as an excuse,” she said.

Her speech came as union leaders called for radical changes in how the HSE is funded and structured. A motion by construction union Ucatt at the TUC’s annual congress in September called for the HSE to be properly funded and for more money to be targeted at inspections.

Too much money is being spent on providing information and advice, whereas just 30% of firms were convicted following the death of a construction worker, said Ucatt general secretary Alan Ritchie.

Manufacturers’ body EEF will this month be teaming up with the HSE to run a series of seminars looking at some of the health and safety myths surrounding risk assessment and management.

The seminars will take place in and around European Health and Safety Week, which runs from October 20 to 24.

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