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CCA Responses to Consultation Documents
Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions Consultation on "Revitalising Health and Safety (July 1999)

In 1999, John Prescott, the Minister in charge of the then Department of Environment. Transport and the Regions, launched this consultation to mark the 25th anniversary of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

The "strategic appraisal" aimed to:

  • inject new impetus into the health and safety agenda;
  • identify new approaches to reduce further rates of accidents and ill-health caused by work, especially approaches relevant to small firms;
  • ensure that our approach to health and safety regulation remains relevant for the changing world of work over the next 25 years; and
  • gain maximum benefit from links between occupational health and safety and other Government programmes.

DETR Document
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CCA Response

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DETR "Strategy Statement"

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CCA Press Release

Key "Action Points" of interest to CCA Work

Action Point 2,3 Reporting
  • Annual Reports
  • Reporting of Deaths, injuries etc
    to Authorities
Action Point 7 , 8,9.10 Penalties
  • increasing fines
  • Naming and Shaming
  • Innovative Penalties
  • Private Prosecutions
Action Point 11: Directors and Corporate Responsibility
  • Corporate Manslaughter
  • Directors Duties
Action Point 15:
  • Crown Immunity
Action Point 18:
  • Workers and the HSE
Action Point 38/39:
  • Open Government
Action Point 44: Organisational Issues
  • Seperation of Advice from enforcement
  • Differentiated "Investigation Units"
  • Strengthening Prosecution Systems

HSC Project Plan
This document sets out what work the HSC has done in relation to the various 'action points'

See more on

HSC Targets
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Action Point 2
The Health and Safety Commission will promote publication of guidance, by March 2001, to allow large businesses to report publicly to a common standard on health and safety issues. The Government and the Health and Safety Commission challenge the top 350 businesses to report to these standards by the end of 2002, and will then work to extend this to all businesses with more than 250 employees by 2004.

42. An analysis of health an safety coverage in the annual reports of companies in the FTSE 100 was carried out by the charity 'Disaster Action' in 1996. This showed that roughly half of these reports covered health and safety in some way, with wide variation in the quality of reporting.
43. In line with the approach adopted on environmental reporting, were there are some excellent examples, Ministers wish to seek to encourage more widespread reporting on a voluntary basis in the first instance. However, Ministers are minded to move to a compulsory regime if good progress is not made against this action point.
44. It is anticipated that the new guidance on annual reporting will encourage companies to include details of their health and safety policies, numbers of reported incidents and details of any enforcement action. Ministers attach particular importance to details of prosecutions , fines and statutory notices being made public. Many of the unions responding to our consultation argued for auditable standards for reporting the costs of health and safety failures and the benefits of health and safety failures and the benefits of health and safety interventions. The feasibility of this proposal will be considered in working up guidance.
45. The Royal society for the Prevention of Accident is taking forward a new initiative called Director Action on Safety and Health (DASH). One aspect of this work is to be a consultation on encouraging best practice in measurement and reporting (both internally and externally) of health and safety performance and plans.
46. The Company Law Review, which includes within its remit an examination of the legal framework for company accounting, reporting and disclosure, may also make proposals relevent to company reporting on health and safety. The Review, which was launched by the Department of Trade and Industry in 1998, is overseen by a steering group of independent experts. It is due to make its final report in Spring 2001

Action point 3
The Health and Safety Commission will undertake a fundamental review of the health and safety incident reporting regulations.

47. The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR) came into force in April 1996. These Regulations simplified injury definitions, introduced new plain English report forms, and enabled the Health and Safety Executive to pilot arrangements for telephone reporting of accidents in Scotland. Plans are being laid, subject to resources being made available, for an integrated call centre which will enable all employers to report incidents by telephone, fax or Internet.
48. While nearly all workplace fatalities are reported, only 47% of reportable incidents generally are reported to the Health and Safety Executive or local authorities. The review of the reporting regulations will look in particular at the needs of the Health and Safety Executive and local authorities for the information currently collected; investigate why employers do not report accidents and the near misses they are required to report; and the possibilities for 'joined up' information and communications strategies with others in the public service to get across the reporting message to employers.
49. A related issue is the quality of investigation by employers when incidents occur, to ensure that lessons are learned and risks are better controlled in future. The Health and Safety Commission has recently sought views on the introduction of a specific duty on employers to investigate accidents. It is considering a consultative document with specific proposals to change the law. Leading-edge employers, large and small, already conduct detailed investigations of all incidents including near misses, as a powerful catalyst for improved future performance. Our vision for the future is far wider propagation of such best practice approaches.



Action Point 7

The Government will seek an early legislative opportunity, as Parliamentary time allows, to provide the Courts with greater sentencing powers for health and safety crimes. The key measures envisaged are to extend the £20,000 maximum fine in the lower courts to a much wider range of offences which currently attract a maximum penalty of £5000; and to provide the courts with the power to imprison for most health and safety offences.

Action Point 8

The Health and Safety Executive will monitor and draw public attention to trends in prosecution, convictions and penalties imposed by the courts, by publishing a special annual report. This will 'name and shame' companies and individuals convicted in the previous twelve months. This information will also be available on the Health and Safety Executive's Website.

58. The consultation document stated that the Government was considering whether to make imprisonment available to the courts for all health and safety offences, and whether the maximum fine for breaches on summary conviction should be increased for offences under the 1974 Act. The overwhelming view of consultees was that the general level of penalties imposed by the courts is inadequate: only 7% considered that the current framework for penalties was satisfactory. Many also argued that more publicity needed to be secured for successful prosecutions. In the light of future trends in sentencing, the Government will consider a referral of health and safety offences to the independent Sentencing Advisory Panel.
59. The Government sees a strong case for strengthening the sentencing powers available to the courts and intends to legislate for this as soon as Parliamentary time allows. A Government handout Bill (the Health and Safety at Work (Offences) Bill), following this session's Private Members' ballot, has already been introduced in Parliament which would increase the maximum lower court fines and make imprisonment more widely available. The Bill would also increase the penalty for the main offence under the Employers' Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969, and extend the time limit on bringing prosecutions for such an offence.

Marking the launch of the joint TUC - British Safety Council report on health and safety penalties in December 1999, the Lord Chancellor said: "I am confident that the Criminal Courts will play a full part in generating greater public awareness of the importance of health and safety issues; and in ensuring that the Courts come down hard on those who breach health and safety legislation." While stressing that only the magistrates and judges could do justice in the particular circumstances of the cases before them, the Lord Chancellor said that they should not flinch from using the maximum penalties, including imprisonment where appropriate.

Action point 9

The Health and Safety Commission will advise Ministers on the feasibility of consultees' proposals for more innovative penalties.

60. Many consultees suggested that a more innovative approach to penalties might be more effective in changing companies' behavior. Among the specific proposals which the Health and Safety Commission will consider are:
o fines linked to the turnover or profit of a company;
o prohibition of Director bonuses for a fixed period;
o suspension of managers without pay;
o suspended sentences pending remedial action;
o compulsory health and safety training;
o penalty point system on the drivers' licence model;
o fixed penalty notices for specific offences;
o deferred prohibition notices on welfare issues.
61. A further popular suggestion was that community service related to health and safety might be an appropriate penalty in some cases. Community service orders can, and have been, imposed by the courts following health and safety convictions. The Health and Safety Commission will consider as part of this project what effect the community service approach has had and whether there might be scope for its wider use.

Action point 10
The Government will consider an amendment to the 1974 Act (when Parliamentary time allows) to enable private prosecutions in England and Wales to proceed without the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

62. The Law Commission published a report on 20 October 1998 entitled Consents to Prosecution. This report found anomalies in the list of offences requiring the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions, arguing that these made substantial inroads into the ordinary individual's right to set the criminal law in motion. Though health and safety offences were not intended to be within the scope of the report, the same principles have a bearing on the position under the 1974 Act.
63. The Law Commission recommended that consent provisions should exist only for three categories of offences: where a defendant could contend that prosecution would violate the European Convention on Human Rights; where national security or an international element is involved; or where there is a high risk that the right of private prosecution will be abused and cause the defendant irreparable harm. The Law Commission concluded against pursuing their provisional proposal for consent provisions where civil proceedings are available in respect of the same conduct.
64. The Law Commission recommends that all consent provisions, which fall outside these categories, be dispensed. The powers of the Attorney General to prevent vexatious proceedings from commencing or to terminate them, and the powers of the Director of Public Prosecutions to take over and discontinue, proceedings, remain. The Director of Public Prosecutions has to date received no more than a handful of applications in relation to health and safety offences, all of which have been rejected. Such a reform would, though, need to guard against any vexatious prosecutions skewing action away from protection of the most vulnerable.

Corporate Responsibility and the role of Directors and Responsible persons of similar Status.

65. There has been growing public concern that the existing offence of corporate manslaughter is flawed. Following the Southall Rail crash in 1997 which resulted in 7 deaths and 151 injuries, Mr Justice Scott ruled that a charge of manslaughter could not succeed because of the need to 'identify some person whose gross negligence was that of Great Western Trains itself". Similarly, prosecution against 7 individuals and the company following the Herald of Free Enterprise disaster in 1987 failed because the "various acts of negligence could not be aggregated and attributed to any individual who was a directing mind". In the history of English law there have been only three successful prosecutions for corporate manslaughter, all against small companies.
66. The Law Commission recommended that a special offence of 'corporate killing' should be created. In cases where management arrangements had failed to ensure the health and safety of workers or the public, a death would be regarded as having been caused by the conduct by the conduct of the corporation. Individuals within a company could still be liable for the offences of reckless killing and killing by gross carelessness, as well as the company being liable for the offence of corporate killing. Directors and managers can also be prosecuted under section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 if an offence committed with their consent or connivance, or is attributable to neglect on their part.
67. The Home Office published on 23 May 2000 a consultation document on involuntary manslaughter with a view to implementing the law Commission Recommendations on a new "corporate killing" offence in England and Wales. The Consultation document covers the issue of corporate liability and the extent to which Directors should be personally liable. The Scottish Executive will consider whether, in light of the proposals in England and Wales, any changes are needed to Scottish Law.
68. Many consultees considered that greater prominence for health and safety issues at board level was the key to raising standards. Responses from health and safety practitioners p[pointed unanimously to the perception of a low profile for their profession with little support from senior management.


Action Point 11
The Health and Safety Commission will develop a code of practice on Directors' responsibilities for health and safety, in conjunction with stakeholders. It is intended that the code of practice will, in particular, stipulate that organisations should appoint an individual Director for health and safety, or responsible person of similar status (for example in organisations where there is no board of Directors).

The Health and Safety Commission will also advise Ministers on how the law would need to be changed to make these responsibilities statutory so that Directors and responsible persons of similar status are clear about what is expected of them in their management of health and safety. It is the intention of Ministers, when Parliamentary time allows, to introduce legislation on these responsibilities."


Health and Safety Executive guidance confirms that, in organisations that are good at managing health and safety , health and safety is a board room issue and a board member takes direct responsibility for the co-ordination of effort. Ministers and the Health and Safety Commission attach importance to ensuring that organisations appoint an individual director for health and safety or a responsible person of similar status

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) launched a new initiative called Director Action on Safety and Health (DASH) on 27 October 1999. This will seek to co-ordinate a programme of activities involving key stakeholders aimed at encouraging more effective involvement of Directors.

70. Health and Safety management needs to be set firmly in the wider context of corporate Governance and corporate social responsibility. Guidance on the internal control requirements of the Combined Code on Corporate Governance, developed by a working party under the chairmanship of Nigel Turnball, was published by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in September 1999. The guidance is intended to ensure that the board is aware of the significant risks faced by their company and the procedures in place to manage them. Boards of directors are called on to review regularly reports on the effectiveness of the system of internal control in managing key risks, and to undertake an annual assessment for the purpose of making their statements on internal control in the annual report.


Crown Immunity

Action Point 15

The Government will seek a legislative opportunity, when Parliamentary time allows, to remove Crown immunity from statutory health and safety enforcement. Until immunity is removed, the relevant Minister will be advised whenever Crown censures are made.

72. Crown bodies have always been exempt from provisions in health and safety law for prosecutions and statutory prohibition/improvement notices. The Health and Safety Executive currently enforces health and safety in Crown bodies by means of non-statutory improvement and prohibition notices. When, but for Crown immunity, the Health and Safety Executive would have prosecuted, there are agreed arrangements for recording a Crown censure against the Crown body concerned.
73. The Health and Safety Commission will advise Ministers on the range of options for introducing statutory health and safety enforcement against Crown bodies. The Food Safety Act 1990 offers a possible model. This provides for statutory improvement and prohibition notices against Crown bodies and, in lieu of prosecution, the power to seek a High Court (or, in Scotland, Court of Session) declaration of non-compliance. In the meantime, the Cabinet Office in consultation with the Health and Safety Executive is to issue new guidance to departments and agencies on the procedures for enforcing health and safety requirements in Crown bodies.


Workers and the HSE

Action point 18
The Health and Safety Executive will take further action to publicise the right of workers to contact them, particularly in the context of the new protection provided by the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998.

86. The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 provides additional protection for 'whistleblowers'. It is only right that people who come forward to expose the practices of irresponsible employers are afforded every possible protection from victimisation.
87. Listening to workers' concerns and ensuring that incidents are properly reported to the enforcing authorities should be integral to employers' health and safety arrangements. But all workers have the right, where they feel that their employers have not paid proper regard to their health or safety, to contact their health and safety enforcing authority. Workers can make their views known in confidence, if they wish, and the enforcing authorities will do everything possible to protect their anonymity. Workers' right to contact enforcing authorities is publicised in the new Health and Safety Law poster and leaflet, and on the Health and Safety Executive's website. The Health and Safety Executive will continue to seek further opportunities to publicise this message, for example in other relevant publications and leaflets.
88. More than 30,000 workers contacted the Health and Safety Executive last year. Around half of these complaints were found to be justified on investigation. The results of the 'whistleblowers' pilot telephone line indicates that about a quarter of such justified complaints involve serious risks to health and safety requiring priority action.

Modernising Government: HSC and Open Government

130. The Modernising Government White Paper highlights the importance of delivering policies and services, which are co-ordinated for the convenience of the customer, not for the convenience of the agencies involved. This demands a customer-based outward-looking focus.


The Government and the Health and Safety Commission recognise and value the expertise of the Health and Safety Executive's staff and of local government enforcers. It will be crucial to safeguard this resource in taking forward a programme of modernisation, and indeed to overcome current difficulties in recruiting and retaining staff in key specialisations.
132. The Health and Safety Commission has adopted as a strategic theme improving their openness and accountability, in particular through preparation for the Freedom of Information Act and the adoption of Service First principles of public service delivery.


Open Government

Action point 38
The Health and Safety Commission will hold some meetings in public each year.

Action point 39
To enable greater openness, the Health and Safety Commission aims to take the opportunity presented by powers in the Freedom of Information Bill to remove restrictions on disclosure of information imposed by Section 28 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

133. The Health and Safety Executive has a policy of openness with health and safety information except where the law prohibits disclosure or where significant harm would result, for example to the ability to regulate and enforce the law. At present, moves towards greater openness in line with this policy are constrained by the blanket statutory restriction on disclosure of certain information imposed by Section 28 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. Powers in the Freedom of Information Bill enable these blanket restrictions to be removed or amended, and its provisions allow a policy of withholding information only where release would cause significant harm

Organisational issues


Without changing the broad current legislative structure, we have identified five areas where there may be a case for organisational change within the Health and Safety Commission and Executive in order to deliver this Action Plan:

  • In the section on engaging small firms, we pointed to the reluctance of small firms to contact the Health and Safety Executive or local authorities for advice, for fear of enforcement action. The new Small Business Service is intended to go at least some way to addressing this problem, by providing a one-stop shop for advice and information, entirely separate from any Government enforcement function. However, there may also be a case for organisational separation within the Health and Safety Executive of information and advice services from inspection and enforcement functions;

  • The Government is considering, in the context of its Transport Safety Review, whether there is a case for greater separation between investigative and regulatory functions in the transport sector. This review will not be concluded until after the Cullen Report, but has wider implications for health and safety. The aim of greater separation would be to ensure that investigators do not shy away from any valid criticism of the regulator. There may be a case for a clearly differentiated 'Investigation Unit' to investigate major incidents in other industrial sectors for which the Health and Safety Executive has safety responsibility, able to draw in expertise from the regulator, the private sector and academics;

  • The respective roles of the Commission and Executive are still not sufficiently understood. The Government recognises that greater clarity is required, and that the Commission's capacity for strategic policy development should be strengthened;

  • Some have voiced concern that current arrangements, whereby inspectors themselves prosecute cases through the courts, may not provide for the most efficient use of inspectors' valuable time. Others would argue that, as a matter of principle, the functions of investigation and prosecution should be separate. The Government sees no easy way of addressing this issue in the short term, but believes that alternative arrangements may warrant further consideration;

  • The Government are concerned at the relatively low level of prosecutions and have asked the Health and Safety Commission and Executive to consider how their existing prosecution system can be strengthened, taking into account the approaches of other regulatory bodies such as the Environment Agency.


Action point 44
The Government and the Health and Safety Commission and Executive will work together to explore options for organisational change to address these issues..


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Page last updated on June 9, 2003