The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has outlined its plans for regulation and engagement with industries from chemicals, manufacturing and construction to leisure and waste and recycling in 19 newly-published industry sector plans, posted online this week.
The plans cover the next three to five years. They were drawn up in consultation with sector bodies such as the Waste Industry Safety and Health forum and were published in draft form at the end of last year.
Each plan summarises the sector’s performance, the top three strategic priorities till 2022 and the actions that the regulator plans to take to support them.
The introduction to the plans says that the HSE will continue to focus on industries that create major hazards and those subject to statutory permissioning regimes such as oil and gas.
However, it adds that most of its resources will be targeted at six priority sectors: agriculture, construction, logistics and transport, manufacturing, public services and waste and recycling – because “these are the sectors where the health and safety challenges are greatest and where our interventions can have the greatest impact”.
One of HSE’s key priorities in the construction plan is to ensure that the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations (CDM 2015) are understood by the sector.
The plan also shows that the HSE will continue to direct its inspection and enforcement at those businesses that fail to manage and control risk, focusing on health risks, refurbishment activity and licensed asbestos removal. The regulator will also visit targeted dutyholders to encourage self-assessment and progressive development of their health risk management arrangements using leading indicators in the construction health risks toolkit.
The 19 plans include major industries but also smaller ones, which have higher risk profiles, such as explosives, manufacturing and fairgrounds and theme parks.
The commercial consumer services sector is also included, though, as the HSE observes, it is regulated by local authorities. The plan commits the HSE to supporting councils by directing their efforts and advising on changing risks.
The HSE has also published three health priority plans to run alongside the sector plans, which outline the regulator’s three occupational health priorities – occupational lung disease, musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) and work-related stress.
The management of these three health risks is the second priority in the construction plan. The sector plan shows that in 2015-16, 3.7% of the construction workforce suffered from an illness it believed was caused, or made worse, by work. The construction sector has a statistically significantly higher rate of occupational lung disease and MSDs than the average for all industries, according to the sector plan.
The third strategic sector priority is supporting small businesses to achieve improved risk management and control. The plan says that most fatal accidents involve small businesses, and nearly half of all reported injuries occur in refurbishment activities.
Responding to the HSE’s construction sector plan announcement, Paul Reeve, director of business at the Electrical Contractors’ Association, said: “We are pleased that HSE recognises the importance of ‘identifying and tackling unnecessary business-on-business burdens’. Too often, disproportionate safety requirements and paperwork take attention away from practical risk controls and protective measures, particularly in smaller businesses.”
He added that the ECA welcomed the inclusion of Building Information Modelling, in advance of a new British standard this autumn. “This should help to improve safety by design, as well as enabling safer asset maintenance,” he said.
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