What Is the Role of The HSE (Health And Safety Executive)?

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is the government agency responsible for the UK’s national regulation of workplace health and safety.

Regulations are made by the government on the proposals made by the HSE. HSE owns both primary and secondary legislation, the primary comprises of Acts which includes the Health and Safety Work Act 1974.

What is the History of the HSE?

The HSE was established by the Health and Safety Work Act 1974 and It helps to prevent work-related death, injury ill-health through legislation and regulated H&S procedures in the workplace.

The secondary legislation is made up of Statutory Instruments that are referred to as regulations.

Who is Responsible for Enforecement of Health and Safety Regulations?

Local authorities and HSE are responsible for the enforcement of H&S regulations and legislation in shops, offices, and any other part of the service sector.

However, the regulations put in place are only as effective as the enforcement of such and thus an employer needs to make sure they comply with laws and legislation on the rules and regulations HSE lay down.

As a result, HSE can and will enforce these regulations with on the spot inspections and record checks to make sure an employer is in full compliance.

What are the HSE’s Key Responsibilties?

HSE has several key responsibilities:

  • Promotes safer working environments
  • Researches better H&S compliance
  • Develops policies, strategies and procedures for H&S
  • Ensures compliance with all H&S laws through investigation, inspection and prosecutions if a business fails to comply.
  • Providing advice, guidance or information
  • Operating licencing activities in industries that may have major hazards associated with them
  • Raising awareness in workplaces of H&S through influence and engagement

Controlling Risks

Therefore, under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, controlling risk in the workplace is of utmost importance and is the responsibility of all involved. Therefore, the minimum an employer must do in compliance is:

  • Identify what could cause injury or illness in your business (hazards)
  • Decide how likely it is that someone could be harmed and how seriously (the risk)
  • Take action to eliminate the hazard, or if this isn’t possible, control the risk

Preparing for Health and Safety Executive Visits

To ensure a positive visit from HSE, an employer can make sure that the right policies and procedures are in place more sufficiently by doing the following:

  • Risk assessments/policies are up to date and easily accessible to staff.
  • Obvious risks are controlled with walkthroughs of the building regularly.
  • Employees are consulted on possible risks within the workplace regularly.
  • The correct facilities are provided for staff to stay safe.
  • All staff are informed and trained to a high level on these procedures to promote a good culture on H&S in the workplace.
  • H&S law posters are displayed correctly.
  • Management is enforcing H&S rules on site.
  • Throughout records are kept by the business and are maintained regularly.
  • Taking enforcement actions where appropriate to prevent hard and to hold those who do not comply with the laws in the UK accountable for their actions.
  • Carry out targeted inspections and/or investigations.

Therefore, once an inspection is carried out by HSE as long as compliance with the rules and regulations of adequate the HSE will provide any guidance that may be needed, this is practical advice on further compliance with the law.

Also, although guidance is less powerful than regulations it should still be taken seriously by employers to show good practice.