HSE announces priorities in business plan for 2017/18

Belinda Liversedge
British Safety Council
14 Apr 2017
HSE will prepare for any 'changes to the chemicals regime' arising from Brexit. Photograph: iStock / andresr

Brexit, no more budget cuts and plans to take forward action on stress, MSDs and lung disease – these are the headlines of HSE’s 2017/18 Business plan.

Whereas last year, the plan was dominated by cuts, this year the outlook appears less painful with taxpayer-funded income expected to be £128.4m in 2019/20, £5m more than budgeted for in 2015/16. Elsewhere the budget is £135.6m in 2017/18, falling to £128.4m in 2018/19, as expected.

There are four priorities for this year. Under the priority to provide an effective regulatory framework, HSE says it will ‘contribute to the government work on the UK’s exit from the European Union, including preparing for any necessary changes to the chemicals regime’. It will carry out a consultation on a review of health and safety regulations in chemicals by the end of the year, it says. HSE has also singled out ‘blue tape’ – where businesses place disproportionate health and safety burdens on each other – as an issue. It will develop the ‘evidence base’ for taking action on this.

Following Helping Great Britain Work Well, HSE’s strategy for 2016-2020, which emphasised collaboration, another priority is ‘leading and engaging with others’. Under this heading HSE proposes to create a new partnership across groups currently tackling occupational lung disease to ‘coordinate activity’. On stress, it plans to ‘customise’ stress management standards in healthcare, education and prisons where it is running pilot stress programmes. HSE will finalise its plans to reduce work-related ill health in the 19 sectors it identified in its draft health and work strategy published late last year. It will use feedback from stakeholders during regional face-to-face events to refine them.

HSE says it will deliver around 20 000 proactive inspections, the same as 2015/16’s plan (HSE managed to deliver 18,000 proactive inspections in that year). HSE also pledges to ‘sustain improvements to the timely completion of investigations’ and aims to complete 80% of fatal investigations completed within 12 months of HSE assuming primacy compared to 70% achieved in 2016.

Other highlights from HSE’s 2017/18 plan:

  • Develop an accreditation offer to companies that sign up to Helping GB Work Well, allowing ‘significant contributions to be recognised’. HSE will present a case to the Board.
  • Develop a strategy for cybersecurity in the chemicals sector
  • Research on how to influence construction SMEs’ management of risk and present findings to the Board
  • Targeted programme of inspections at fairground rides with known safety issues
  • Undertake programme of return visits to poorly performing dutyholders to ensure that legionella risks are being managed
  • Become a Disability Confident employer in 2017/18, a government scheme to encourage organisations to make changes to support disabled people in the workplace
  • Create an enhanced website, to be more ‘user-focused’

Find HSE's Business Plan 2017/18 here