|Formed||1 January 1975|
|Type||Crown status non-departmental public body|
|Headquarters||Bootle, Merseyside, England|
|Parent department||Department for Work and Pensions|
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is a UK government agency responsible for the encouragement, regulation and enforcement of workplace health, safety and welfare, and for research into occupational risks in Great Britain. After 2023 it will have a new government agency, know as the National "Building Safety Regulator" with responsibility for (English) "Building Regulations" and "Construction Industry Professionals Competency" in England. The new "regulator" (BSR) will be sponsored, by the MHCLG/DLUHC department. (DLUHC.gov.uk)
It is a non-departmental public body of the United Kingdom with its headquarters in Bootle, England. In Northern Ireland, these duties lie with the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland.
As "Building Regulations" and "minimum building safety standards" are a devolved area of responsibility, in the 4 national parliaments of the UK. Separate & Different new building safety regulations & new fire safety laws will also come into force in England, Wales, Scotland & Northern Ireland.
The HSE was created by the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, and has since absorbed earlier regulatory bodies such as the Factory Inspectorate and the Railway Inspectorate though the Railway Inspectorate was transferred to the Office of Rail and Road in April 2006.
The new roles of the HSE & its new "Regulator" (BSR) are set out by Part 1 of the Building Safety Bill (Act 2023).
The HSE is sponsored by the Department for Work and Pensions. As part of its work, HSE investigates industrial accidents, small and large, including major incidents such as the explosion and fire at Buncefield (Oil Fuel Store) in 2005. Though HSE formerly reported to the Health and Safety Commission, on 1 April 2008, the two bodies merged.
Following the fatal fire event at the Grenfell Tower, London in 2017, and the finding, by Dame Hackett's Independent Review into the existing statutory controls on Building Work & Building Materials Standards, that the current "Building Regulations System" was not fit for purpose.
The English (UK) Government set up a Building Safety Reform program in 2017-2018 and the Building Safety Bill 2021 & Fire Safety Act 2021 have been produced, along with draft "building regulations".
Several new British Standards are being promoted by the UK Government to support these new laws & new legal duties. All future (draft) "building regulations" will continue to have to be presented to the Welsh or England parliaments, before they become law.
When Part 1 of the BUILDING SAFETY (Bill) Act 2023 is enacted sometime after July 2023 into statute law, the HSE will also be the home for the new national BUILDING SAFETY REGULATOR (BSR) (the Regulator) for England, and its first Chief Building Inspector has been appointed - Peter Baker.
The BUILDING SAFETY (Bill) Act 2023 will extend and revise the existing Building Act 1984, and will require greater levels of competency for the professionals and greater personal and professional "legal duties" for specific individuals & post holders, within the construction & building industries.
The BUILDING SAFETY (Bill) Act 2023 will make the National Building Safety Regulator responsible for consulting and writing new and future editions of the "Building Regulations" and related "minimum building & fire safety standards".
The BUILDING SAFETY (Bill) Act 2023 will also establish public registers of competent and qualified "building Inspectors" and protect the "functions" and "title" of "Registered Building Inspector" in law. It will become a criminal offence not to comply with the requirements of the "Building Regulations" and future enforcement action will be tried in the 'Crown Court' & Lower (Land & Property) Tier of the High Court.
The BUILDING SAFETY (Bill) Act 2023 will remove or replace the existing short "time limits" (often as short as 12 months) on enforcement, with a minimum of ten years.
The BUILDING SAFETY (Bill) Act 2023 does confirm that the substantive requirements of the building regulations & the new legal duties within the Building Safety Act 2023 do apply to all "Crown Buildings" and all individual agents & employees of the Crown and its estates.
New Civil Rights will be legislated for, giving todays building owners up to 15 years to bring a legal action, where it can be shown that the Building Regulations were not complied with and that action or inaction by the client, designer or builder, has caused any building or dwelling to be "unfit for habitation". The Defective Premises Act 1972 and the Landlord and Tenants Act 1952 (etc.) will be amended to give this retrospective effect. And finally Section 38 of the Building Act 1984 will be commenced on the enactment of the BUILDING SAFETY BILL.
The above new laws and legal rights will apply to all buildings of all heights.
However, additional legal duties and obligations will be imposed on the current owners and current managers of all "higher-risk" (tall, and over 6 floors, 18m high) [Existing & Under-Construction] residential buildings (Blocks of Flats, etc.) in England. [As Part 4 of the BUILDING SAFETY ACT 2023 will only apply in England.]
[This will be revised as the BUILDING SAFETY (Bill) Act legislation proceeds through parliament.]
John S. Bone, C.Build.E MCABE, BSc Hons (20.11.2021)
The Executive's duties are to:
The Executive is further obliged to keep the Secretary of State informed of its plans and ensure alignment with the policies of the Secretary of State, giving effect to any directions given to it. The Secretary of State can give directions to the Executive.
The Railway Inspectorate was transferred to HSE in 1990. On 1 April 2006, the Executive ceased to have responsibility for railway safety, when the Railway Inspectorate was transferred to the Office of Rail Regulation (now the Office of Rail and Road).
The Executive is responsible for the Employment Medical Advisory Service, which operates as part of its Field Operations Directorate.
Local authorities are responsible for the enforcement of health and safety legislation in shops, offices, and other parts of the service sector.
Agencies belonging to the HSE include
Based in Buxton, Derbyshire, the Health and Safety Executive Science Division (HSL- Health & Safety Laboratory) employs over 350 people including scientists, engineers, psychologists, social scientists, health professionals, and technical specialists.
It was established in 1921 under the Safety in Mines Research Board to carry out large-scale tests related to mining hazards. Following the formation of the HSE, in 1975 the facilities became a Safety Engineering Laboratory and an Explosion and Flame Research Laboratory, operating as part of the Research Laboratories Service Division of the HSE. In 1995 the HSL was formed, including the Buxton site and laboratories in Sheffield. In 2004 the Sheffield activities moved to Buxton, and the University of Sheffield took over the Sheffield laboratory site.
The Offshore Safety Division (OSD) was established as a division within HSE in April 1991. This was in response to recommendations of the Cullen Inquiry into the Piper Alpha disaster on 6 July 1988. At the time of the disaster, the Department of Energy (DEn) was responsible for both production and offshore safety; this was perceived as entailing a conflict of interests. Dr Tony Barrell, Director of HSE's Technology and Air Pollution Division was appointed Chief Executive of OSD, having previously been seconded to the DEn to lead the transfer of responsibilities. At the same time, Ministerial oversight was transferred from the DEn to the Department of Employment. The Offshore Safety Act 1992 made the Mineral Workings (Offshore Installations) Act 1971 and its subsidiary Regulations relevant statutory provisions of the Health and Safety at work etc., Act 1974. The OSD's initial responsibilities included the establishment of the Safety Case Regulations; a thorough review of existing safety legislation and the move towards a goal setting regulatory regime. OSD became part of the HSE's new Hazardous Installations Directorate in 1999; it became part of the new Energy Division in 2013.
The HSE currently administrates the Occupational Safety & Health Consultants Register (OSHCR), a central register of registered safety consultants within the United Kingdom. The intention of the HSE is to pass responsibility of operating the register to the relevant trade & professional bodies once the register is up and running.
List of Directors General:
The HSE and the Health and Safety Commission merged on 1 April 2008.
The HSE and the Health and Safety Commission merged on 1 April 2008.
Some of the criticism of HSE has been that its procedures are inadequate to protect safety. For example, the public enquiry by Lord Gill into the Stockline Plastics factory explosion criticised the HSE for "inadequate appreciation of the risks associated with buried LPG pipework…and a failure properly to carry out check visits". However, most criticism of the HSE is that their regulations are over-broad, suffocating, and part of a nanny state. The Daily Telegraph has claimed that the HSE is part of a "compensation culture," that it is undemocratic and unaccountable, and that its rules are costing jobs.
However, the HSE denies this, saying that much of the criticism is misplaced because it relates to matters outside the HSE's remit. The HSE also responded to criticism by publishing a "Myth of the Month" section on its website between 2007 and 2010, which it described as "exposing the various myths about 'health and safety'". This has become a political issue in the UK. The Lord Young report, published in October 2010, recommended various reforms aiming "to free businesses from unnecessary bureaucratic burdens and the fear of having to pay out unjustified damages claims and legal fees."
The HSE focuses regulation of health and safety in the following sectors of industry: