Brexit, renewables and slavery were three new focuses that featured in HSE’s annual reports and accounts for the year 2017/18, its annual update on its finances and actions taken to regulate the health and safety system.
While HSE remains “on-track” to live within its reducing budget while maintaining delivery of its duties, the adjustments required have been challenging, says the report. Highlights of which are:
Prosecutions resulting from investigations into health and safety offences are down by 12 per cent from last year, from 593 prosecutions in 2016/17 to 521 in 2017. Figures are provisional, but compared with 2015/16, when 711 prosecutions were made, this is a decrease of 27 per cent.
However, 81 per cent of investigations into fatal accidents were completed within 12 months of HSE receiving primacy last year, a new record. By comparison, in 2013/14, only 43 per cent of investigations into fatalities were completed.
“This means that, in more than four out of five cases, families and friends of people killed in work-related deaths receive the outcome of our investigations within 12 months,” said the report.
HSE has succeeded in implementing sector plans to focus on key risks to health and poor safety management, highlighting inspection campaigns construction, including the Safer Sites campaign for small refurbishment sites, bakeries and in waste and recycling. Work was “enhanced by working jointly with industry representatives and building broader impact through linked information campaigns,” it says.
HSE has increased activity in protecting vulnerable workers. In 2017/18 HSE helped to deal with 176 cases of exploitation in construction, car washes, food production and textiles – more than double the number (82) it assisted with in 2016/17.
Another new entry for this year, was offshore wind farms, as HSE notes the “complex and unique health and safety challenges” presented by projects built in harsher and more remote environments. HSE has helped by developing guidelines for the sector as well as to help deliver an offshore risk reduction programme.
In anticipation of Brexit, HSE is poised to “where necessary” update the regulatory framework in line with government policy. “This will include making technical changes through Statutory Instruments under European Union (Withdrawal) Bill powers to ensure retained EU law still functions effectively on exit, providing certainty for employers and employees.”
HSE increased total income to £93m in 2017/18, which is less than the £96 million it forecast in its Business Plan, but more than the £90.8m it recouped in 2016/17.
Funding from government, as it states in the March business plan, will slender down to £128.4m by 2019/20, down from £142.6m in 2015/16. Increasing its commercial income (activity undertaken for any external organisation), is therefore a key part of HSE’s strategy to live within its means.
Commercial income for 2017/18 was £16.2m, a “smaller increase than planned” but with a “strong order book and secured sales moving into 2018/19”.
The regulator also made savings through paying fewer salaries – 48 inspectors left HSE last year – as well as sub-letting space at HSE’s Redgrave Court headquarters to the Home Office and hot desking. It expects to make further savings from ‘natural turnover’ of staff.
“Looking back on 2017/18, we can recognise a year of progress and achievement with all of our external milestones met in-year,” write HSE Chair, Martin Temple and Acting Chief Executive, Dr David Snowball in the forward. “Yet, this has also been a demanding time for our people as we implemented various estates changes, investments in IT and some internal restructuring alongside sustaining our regulatory activities.”
HSE Annual report 2017/18 can be read on the website here
HSE Business Plan 2018/19 can be read here
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