Everything you need to know about the HSE

As experts in health and safety and premises compliance, you can imagine how often we are asked about the HSE; their roles and responsibilities, how they can help and what kind of things should be reported to them. We are a helpful bunch, so we have put together this handy list of all the things we think you should know about the HSE. Enjoy!

What is the HSE?

The Health and Safety Executive - commonly referred to as the HSE - is an independent regulatory body that aims to prevent work-related ill health, injury and death. They officially came to being in 1975, after the launch of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, although they have been around in various forms since the 1800’s.

What does the HSE do?

In short, the HSE acts in the public interest to reduce work-related injuries and deaths in Great Britain (In Northern Ireland, this is handled by the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland or HSENI).

For the most part, this means that they are responsible for enforcing health and safety legislation, but they also provide advice and information, carry out targeted inspections and investigations, operate licensing activities in major hazard industries and take enforcement action against those who break the law.

The HSE states that they are guided by the “fundamental principle that those who create risks are best placed to control them”. Together with local authorities, they work to ensure those with a duty of care (dutyholders) correctly manage the health and safety of their workforce and the people who are affected by their work i.e. visitors, customers and the general public.

Enforcement duties are allocated based on the main activities carried out in a particular premises. You can find out more about enforcement allocations in the Health and Safety (Enforcing Authority) Regulations 1998: A-Z guide to allocation.

Facts and figures from the HSE

Every year, the HSE publishes a variety of health and safety statistics gained from surveys, reports and surveillance schemes. The statistics they report are audited by the UK Statistics Authority and cover things like;

  • Workplace injuries
  • Work-related ill health and disease
  • Enforcement of health and safety legislation
  • Working days lost as a result of work-related illness and workplace injury
  • Costs to Britain resulting from health and safety incidents
  • Working conditions
  • Management of health and safety in the workplace

For example, did you know that there were 28.2 million working days lost due to work-related illness and workplace injury in 2018/19? Check out the Health and safety at work Summary statistics for Great Britain 2019 to find out more.

How do you report incidents to the HSE?

If you are an employer or the responsible person, you are required to report certain incidents to the HSE under RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013). This includes an injury, dangerous occurrence, case of disease, flammable gas incident or a dangerous gas fitting.

You can find the specific online forms for submitting a RIDDOR report for each of these on the HSE website. Here, you will also see the reporting options available in case of an offshore-related incident and the number you can call if you need to report fatal/specified incidents.

Only responsible persons such as employers, the self-employed and people in control of work premises should submit reports under RIDDOR. If you are an employee or a member of the public wishing to report a health and safety issue, there is another route for you to take.

If you see something in the workplace that you think is breaking health and safety law or could cause serious harm, you can report this to the HSE. In the first instance, consider whether you can solve the problem yourself by speaking to your manager or employer, the person in charge of the work or a union representative. If this is not possible, you can make a report to the HSE directly via their online form, or by phone on  0300 003 1647.

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