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HSE ‘flexible’ new strategy to tackle new and longstanding risks

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HSE has announced a new ten-year strategy, which sees the regulator stepping out for the first time of its traditional model of overseeing work-related risk, to include advising on new risks which affect everyone such as climate change.


Protecting People and Places: 2022-2032, presents an “expanded mission”, says the foreword from Sarah Albon, Chief Executive and Sarah Newton, HSE Board Chair:

“This is a strategy that reflects our role at its broadest. A role that goes beyond worker protection, to include public safety assurance on a range of issues.”

“External drivers include the introduction of new technologies in the workplace, the growth of the gig economy and government’s commitment to the net zero agenda. HSE also has added responsibilities, such as becoming the appointed Building Safety Regulator and our extended role in chemical regulation, post Brexit.”

As Building Safety Regulator, which sits within HSE, the BSR will have to reach a wide-ranging audience, such as residents, as well as oversee compliance in tall building safety. Photograph: iStock

HSE’s fundamental principle continues to apply, which is to make sure that those who create risk, take responsibility for controlling the risk.

But HSE will be tackle new and traditional risks, and this means being “flexible and open minded.”

Ill health

While some themes are new, tackling work-related ill health continues to be a priority as in previous HSE strategies.

Work-related lung disease, mental health at work and work-related stress and musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) remain the most common cause of working days lost in Britain.

In 2020/21, stress, anxiety and depression accounted for 50% of all work-related ill-health cases.

In 2020/21, stress, anxiety and depression accounted for 50% of all work-related ill-health cases. Photograph: iStock

On long term ill health, HSE will produce employer guidance to support disabled workers and workers with long-term health conditions to remain productive in work.

HSE will also finalise research on Covid-19 transmission in the workplace by the end of this year.

Safe places to live and work

HSE will establish the Building Safety Regulator, overseeing a regime for higher-risk buildings that improves standards, compliance and accountability. “The challenge goes beyond workplaces. We will need to reach a wide-ranging audience, such as residents,” says the strategy.

Net zero

The regulator will assist the safe delivery of the government’s commitment to achieve net zero greenhouse gas by 2050. HSE has secured funding to assess the safety implications of using hydrogen as a low carbon alternative for heating homes and produce this work by 2025.

It will continue to support offshore wind programmes and energy from waste schemes. HSE will also work to understand how growth in these new sectors may change the risk profile and look at managing health impacts on workers. More detail is expected on priorities and capability for supporting Net Zero by the end of the year.  

New audiences

HSE will adopt a blend of interventions, which include communication activities and enforcement. It will work on being ‘accessible’ – to engage audiences beyond workers and employers to include ‘citizens’.

Read the new strategy here: https://www.hse.gov.uk/aboutus/the-hse-strategy.htm

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