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A radical new strategy to improve future standards of workplace ...
A radical new strategy to improve future standards of workplace

health and safety in Great Britain was launched today by Des Browne,

minister for work and Bill Callaghan, chair of the Health & Safety

Commission (HSC).

Drawing on the last 30 years experience and extensive consultations

with a wide range of stakeholders, the strategy sets out a new

direction for the health and safety system and the roles of HSC, the

Health & Safety Executive (HSE) and Local Authorities (LAs).

The strategy is ambitious but realistic, focusing on managing risks

and not eliminating them. HSE and LAs will target resources on the

areas of greatest need and be less active where risks are well

managed. In those areas there will be greater emphasis on advice and


Mr Browne said: 'This new strategy is radical and brave in its

approach to reduce workplace risks for everyone, no matter what job

they do. But this cannot be achieved by HSC, HSE and LAs alone.

'It is vital that the whole health and safety system is involved and

close partnerships are forged with other stakeholders to bring about

change and improvement.

'This government sees occupational health and safety as a cornerstone

of a civilised society and wants to achieve a record that leads the

world. Great strides have already been made on safety improvements

and I want to see similar progress on occupational health.

'This is particularly important to me as it touches my department's

work in helping people back to work after illness and preventing them

getting ill in the first place.

'The record in reducing accidents is impressive. Now we need to

achieve a similarly impressive reduction in ill health arising from

work. As well as untold suffering, poor management of risks costs

the economy dearly. This new strategy is the way ahead.'

Key features of the HSC strategy include:

* Focusing resources on poor performance to get best resul ts

* Promoting greater involvement of workers - the strategy recognises

the people best placed to make workplaces safe are staff and


* Making information readily accessible and providing clearer and

simpler advice

* Involving all stakeholders and forging close working relationships

where everyone has a voice and can contribute

It calls for new ways of working:

* Providing effective support free from the fear of enforcement -

looking for ways to increase the understanding of health and safety

and its paramount importance

* Prioritising work - having the confidence to identify areas that

are well controlled, and withdrawing from them

* Sharing the vision - making a step change in the way HSC/E

communicates effectively

Mr Callaghan said: 'The development of this strategy was driven by

the recognition that the world of work is changing, and with it, the

hazards. It is intended to reinforce our message about adopting a

sensible approach to health and safety, about balancing risks and


'We are not looking for a risk free society but one where risks are

better understood. Similarly we are signalling that more legislation

will not be our first response to new issues. We will work with

others to find the best solutions.

'Britain's record is already commendable, with fatal accidents

reduced by over two thirds since the introduction of the landmark

Health and Safety at Work etc. Act in 1974, but more needs to be


'Forty million working days were lost to occupational injury and ill

health in 2001/02: 33 million days were attributed to ill health.

'Implementing the strategy should further energise Britain's approach

to improving workplace health and safety for the future.'


The Strategy for Workplace Health and Safety in Great Britain to 2010

and beyond' can be accessed on the HSE website at

Copies are also available free from HSE Books, PO B ox 1999, Sudbury,

Suffolk CO10 2WA (Tel: 01787-881165 or fax: 01787-313995).

1. HSE is now developing an implementation programme and plan to

ensure that the strategy is driven forward. Early deliverables


- A statement on worker involvement in March 2004;

- Proposals for occupational health and safety support (based on

models currently being piloted) by Spring 2004

- High-level strategic programme plans by May 2004;

- A high-level partnership agreement between HSE and LAs by July


- Proposals for accessible channels of advice and guidance free from

the perceived fear of enforcement by September 2004; and

- An interventions strategy by the end of 2004.

2. Development of the strategy began in 2003 and has been informed by

three main sources:

* Consultation: Concerted attempts were made to involve stakeholders

in early thinking and to reach out to people who do not normally

receive written consultations;

* Reviewing evidence: A new literature review was carried out to

identify and draw upon evidence on the effectiveness of different

interventions in affecting health and safety. This included evidence

from systems in other countries;

* Drawing on experience: In addition, discussions were held on an

ongoing basis to identify untapped experience.

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