Many people are confused as to just what the Health and Safety Executive does, believing – wrongly – that it is simply there to prosecute and penalise companies and employers who do not follow proper safety procedures, resulting in an accident. In fact, their role is much wider and if it could be encapsulated in just a few words, they would be ‘prevention and improvement’.
Watching the statistics
Part of the role of the HSE is to correlate all of the figures relating to accident and illness across absolutely every business sector in the country. This is a huge task, especially since there are so many levels of accident and injury that must be included, from the very smallest cut or bruise up to death. The resulting figures are mindboggling – more than 2.5 million people are injured or suffer from an industrial related disease in an average year, losing the country 34 million working days and costing, again as an average, 2% of the GDP (Gross National Product). This figure has been steadily falling since the HSE was instituted nearly forty years ago but the rate of fall has lessened and so the HSE are spending a lot of time and resources to try and find the reason and, where possible, stem the flow of injuries. Only a relatively small percentage of the injuries result in death – around 200 a year – but of course the ideal figure and one for which the HSE strives is zero.
From time to time, the HSE issues regulations relating to certain business activities and how they can be carried out safely. Although this is not always specified, it is always assumed that correct safety training courses will be made available to employees and that there is correct paperwork held to show that the relevant people in the company attend regularly. It is not usually enough to train once; reinforcement and bringing knowledge up to date is of equal importance and it is vital to use a well-respected company such as Boss Training which has all of the correct accreditation so they can give relevant certificates and cards that are acceptable all over the UK and sometimes internationally.
Apart from keeping an eye on the state of health and safety across the UK, the HSE are also independent regulators if anyone feels that their employer is not doing enough to safeguard them at work. Hopefully, the HSE is called in before any injury or illness has occurred, but they will also arbitrate in cases where the case has already progressed to one of compensation and liability being decided. They have powers to force employers to implement any health and safety procedures and this applies to the smallest companies with perhaps just one or two employees right up to government bodies such as the police. Health and safety is key not only to making sure that the workforce enjoys proper protection, but is also a major part of creating a healthy economy.
Rob Steen is a Freelance Copywriter who specialises in health and safety articles.