HSE budget cuts could mean less safety inspections, the BSC says
Posted by Ben Alexander.
The Health and Safety Executive's (HSE) proposal to scale back on its face-to-face health and safety visits, which may include guidance on warning signs and construction site signage, will have a profound effect on the regulator's ability to enforce health and safety law, the British Safety Council (BSC) has said.
A leaked letter, obtained by the BBC's File on Four programme, revealed that the HSE is planning to reduce workplace inspections to accommodate a 38 per cent cut in its government grant.
Neal Stone, director of policy and research at the BSC, said the budget cuts will "inevitably" mean fewer inspections will be carried out.
"At the moment, every workplace in Great Britain can expect a visit from an inspector on average once every 13 years," Mr Stone said.
"That is going to be far less frequent with the budget reductions the HSE is facing. We are all concerned about HSE's capability."
Mr Stone said a "big conversation" is now needed between the HSE and all those involved in health and safety as to how the regulator can manage its resources effectively and efficiently.
"Although we live in worrying times, HSE still has got considerable resources and the whole question about how they're used and how effectively and efficiently they're used needs to be a part of the big conversation," he said.
Given the cost of sending inspectors out to carry out on-site visits, Mr Stone said new ways should be found to ensure that employers comply with the law. One of these is to use forms of new technology, he added.
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