Government launches health and safety strategy

A
new strategy to improve workplace health and safety in the UK was launched
today.

Des
Browne, minister of state at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and
Bill Callaghan, chair of the Health & Safety Commission (HSC) announced the
new strategy which sets out a new direction for the health and safety system
and the roles of HSC, the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) and local
authorities (LAs).

The
strategy focuses on managing risks and not eliminating them.  HSE and LAs will target resources on the areas
of greatest need and be less active where risks are well managed. In those
areas, there will be greater emphasis on advice and support.

Browne
said: "This new strategy is radical and brave in its approach to reduce
workplace risks for everyone, no matter what job they do. But this cannot be
achieved by the HSC, HSE and LAs alone. It is vital that the whole health and
safety system is involved and close partnerships are forged with other
stakeholders to bring about change and improvement.

"This
Government sees occupational health and safety as a cornerstone of a civilised
society and wants to achieve a record that leads the world.

"Great
strides have already been made on safety improvements and I want to see similar
progress on occupational health. This is particularly important to me as it
touches my department’s work in helping people back to work after illness and
preventing them getting ill in the first place," Browne said.

"The
record in reducing accidents is impressive. Now we need to achieve a similarly
impressive reduction in ill health arising from work. As well as untold
suffering, poor management of risks costs the economy dearly," Browne
added. "This new strategy is the way ahead."

Key
features of the HSC strategy include:


Focusing resources on poor performance to get best results


Promoting greater involvement of workers – the strategy recognises the people
best placed to make workplaces safe are staff and their immediate managers


Making information readily accessible and providing clearer and simpler advice


Involving all stakeholders and forging close working relationships where
everyone has a voice and can contribute.

Bill
Callaghan said: "The development of this strategy was driven by the
recognition that the world of work is changing, and with it, the hazards.

"It
is intended to reinforce our message about adopting a sensible approach to
health and safety. It’s about balancing the risks and benefits.

"We
are not looking for a risk-free society but one where risks are better
understood. Similarly we are signalling that more legislation will not be our
first response to new issues. We will work with others to find the best
solutions."

The
Strategy for Workplace Health and Safety in Great Britain to 2010 and beyond
can be accessed on the HSE website.

www.hse.gov.uk/aboutus/hsc/strategy.htm

By Quentin Reade

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