HSE and LA co-operation key to more consistent regulation, says IOSH

IOSH has urged local authorities (LAs) to commit to working closely with regulatory bodies to strengthen safety and health standards across Britain.

The move comes after the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and LA representative bodies developed a joint statement of commitment (SoC) in April, which sets out a shared vision for consistent regulation across HSE and LA enforced businesses. 
LAs regulate about two thirds of all business premises, covering the retail, consumer services, entertainment, and warehousing and supply sectors. This accounts for around half of the total workforce in Great Britain. 

However, “OSH management failures” result in more than 100,000 workers developing new cases of ill health, 5,000 major workplace accidents and ten fatal injuries in LA-enforced business sectors each year, according to the HSE.   

The SoC was developed as part of the ongoing work of the strategic group overseeing the HSE/LA co-regulatory partnership (HELA) and the supporting Practitioner Forum.  It has been endorsed by the HSE’s board, the Local Government Association, the Welsh Local Government Association and the Society of Chief Officers of Environmental Health in Scotland, and is aimed at councillors, LA chief executives and their heads of regulatory services.  

Now IOSH has joined the call for LAs to publicly commit to the statement and embed the principles within their service plans. Richard Jones, the institution’s head of policy and public affairs, said: “It’s important that co-regulation is adequately resourced and effectively delivered, to ensure the quality and consistency of enforcement across the regulatory landscape.  

“So, IOSH welcomes this joint-focus on promoting the benefits of good health and safety and the need to improve regulation and strengthen protection, particularly for vulnerable workers. “We urge local authorities to publicly endorse the joint SoC and embed its principles within their service plans.  “IOSH supports greater consistency of enforcement between HSE and local authorities and has previously called for ring-fenced funding for local authority occupational safety and health regulations, adequate training and resourcing of regulators and, over time, for a unified enforcement agency.”  

The SoC aims to strengthen and maintain a long term, senior commitment to delivery of their legal duty as enforcers of workplace safety and health and asks that LAs collaborate with other bodies to deliver effective and correctly targeted solutions to keep workers safe.  The statement commits LAs to:

  • working with other LAs to peer review activities
  • using national and local intelligence to effectively target poor performing sectors
  • annually reporting their safety and health enforcement activity to the HSE
  • championing their role as safety and health regulators. 

The HSE said it was working with LAs to develop supporting materials that will be available soon.