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New HSE Strategy places emphasis on workplace health issues

Launching the new strategy at its annual conference Senior HSE figures set out 19 strategic plans for the next three to five years, with health issues at the forefront of the agenda and highlighting how the organisation will proritise its inspection resources in the future. 

Philip White, the HSE’s Director of Operational Strategy; stated that the HSE would concentrate its resources where the problems are most significant and its efforts can make a difference, and identified in 6 key areas as;



transport and logistics; 


waste and recycling; and 

public services. 

Quoting Harvard professor Malcolm Sparrow’s dictum that regulators “shouldn’t go everywhere”. He added that “We will concentrate on the most serious risks, the high hazard sectors, and companies with the poorest risk management records,” and “also need to work to make our advice and guidance more accessible for SMEs.” 

White explained that recent HSE enforcement activity in 2016–17 had included a focus on, three manufacturing sub-sectors, food manufacturing, wood working and fabricated metals – with the HSE finding that one third of the businesses inspected were non-compliant on health. He further commented “While it’s disappointing, it’s also heartening that we were focusing our inspection effort in the right places,” 

HSE Deputy Director of the Work and Health Strategy Peter Brown, provided further detail on its three established focus areas – occupational lung disease, Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD)and work-related stress. He commented that “We will consider other issues, but with a reduced level of resources,” and added “Our intention is to work with key stakeholders, and use our communication channels to amplify any enforcement action.” 

The HSE went on to highlight concerns in the Small to Medium Size (SME) sector where employers often adopted generic policies including manual handling training in addressing MSD risks rather than designing out the problem at source. Phillip White commented  

“SMEs are regularly buying in manual handling training, because they think they ought to. But what about solutions by design, or using lifting aids? We would like design solutions to be the default option, and to see employers buying in solutions that suit their workers.” 

Full details of the HSE Strategy can be found at -  www.hse.gov.uk/aboutus/strategiesandplans/index.htm

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