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HSE urged to boost staff engagement in DWP review

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HSE should set a “stretching target” to improve engagement among its 2,500 staff, including looking at annual working days lost and reports of bullying and harassment, a government report into its work has urged.


The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), which sponsors HSE, carried out the review to ensure it remains “fit for purpose, well governed and properly accountable for what it does”.

It is called a ‘tailored review’, meaning it is devoted to areas that haven’t been examined closely in recent reviews, notably the Triennial review of 2014.

Out of its 27 recommendations, three cover organisational culture. In a period which has seen HSE work without a permanent CEO since the departure of Richard Judge last August, the regulator is asked to look at better communication around change management and to improve reporting its objectives to staff.

The report also recommends HSE to increase diversity, including at senior levels, reporting to the HSE Board regularly on its progress.

The Health and Safety Executive Tailored Review, published in December last year, made recommendations in four categories: board governance, operational and financial, as well as organisational.

TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson pointed out the potentially conflicting objectives in the financial section, particularly the recommendation for HSE to remain consistent with its purpose, which is to improve the health and safety of workers, while also finding ways to cut costs and continue to “seek opportunities” commercially.

Referring to the report’s recommendations that: “HSE should ensure that the success of commercial activity is measured by its contribution, rather than by income”, and that “strategy and ambition” should complement HSE’s core business, he said: “These two comments are a very strong reminder to the government that the HSE is there for a reason, which is to improve the health and safety of workers and the public – not a commercial organisation chasing profits.”

The DWP summarised that it was content with HSE’s work in the four areas covered. Sarah Smart, the lead reviewer, concluded: “This review found that HSE is a well-respected and well-structured organisation that fulfils its statutory objectives effectively.”

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