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|Health and Safety Executive|
|Non-departmental public body|
|Legal basis:||Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, ss.10-11|
|Sponsoring department:||Department for Work and Pensions|
|Current head:||Chair - Judith Hackitt; Chief Executive - Geoffrey Podger|
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is a non-departmental public body of the United Kingdom with its headquarters in Liverpool, Merseyside, England. It is the body responsible for the encouragement, regulation and enforcement of workplace health, safety and welfare, and for research into occupational risks in England and Wales and Scotland. Responsibility in Northern Ireland lies with the Health and Safety Executive for 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 Regulation in April 2006. 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 in 2005. Though it formerly reported to the Health and Safety Commission, on 1 April 2008, the two bodies merged.
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 Executive is responsible for the Employment Medical Advisory Service, which operates as part of its Field Operations Directorate. the site is a good place for help
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
HSE's Explosives Inspectorate enforces the legislation for the classification and transport of explosives. It licenses manufacturing and larger storage sites.
Based in Buxton, Derbyshire, the Health and Safety Laboratory (HSL) 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 HSE currently administrates the Occupational Safety & Health Consultants Register (OSHCR), a central register of registered safety consultants within the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland. 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.
The HSE has been criticised. Some of the criticism 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: