Prospect responds to HSE triennial review

Workers must be consulted on any changes to HSE, Prospect tells government

Prospect today welcomed the findings of the triennial review of the Health and Safety Executive commissioned by the Department for Work and Pensions. But the union said the government must heed warnings about the dangers of the 'fee for intervention' model.

Deputy general secretary Garry Graham said: "We are delighted that the fourth review of the HSE in recent years once more confirms that the agency is fit for purpose and benefits workers and employers across the UK. We welcome author Martin Temple's finding that the HSE's functions should continue to be delivered by a non-departmental public body, allowing it to retain its independence and his praise for the professionalism and competence of staff.

Dangerous fees model

"However, the review rightly raises concerns about the new 'fee for intervention' (FFI) model, which links the regulator's funding to its income from 'fines', calling it a 'dangerous' model that has potentially damaged the HSE's reputation for acting impartially and independently.

"FFI was rushed in to fill gaps in HSE's budget caused by government cuts. Prospect warned that the proposals would be perceived as a business burden and risked damaging the regulatory balance.

"We have been proved right. We strongly back the review's call to remove the link between funding and fines. It is the wrong solution to funding. HSE has lost experienced inspectors because of the cuts and difficulties caused by FFI."

Listen to unions

Prospect welcomed health and safety minister Mike Penning's support for most of the findings. But Graham said: "We are concerned about his call to go beyond the review's recommendations to introduce reforms to make the HSE more commercial in its outlook and delivery.

"We warned about fee for intervention and the government didn't listen. It must not impose further reforms without proper consultation and engagement with stakeholders, including the trade unions. It is vital that workers have a say in any changes to policy and law that affects their lives and livelihoods."

Prospect represents more than 1,600 inspectors and specialists in the Health and Safety Executive and Office for Nuclear Regulation.