The Health and Safety Executive, often abbreviated to HSE, is the national independent watchdog for work-related health, safety and illness.
The foundations of the organisation can be dated back to the 1800s when the HM Factory Inspectorate, Mines Inspectorate and Quarry Inspectorates were formed.
But it was on 1 January 1975 that the Health and Safety Executive was officially established, led by its first Director General, John Lock.
The organisation came into being the year after the publication of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. (In Northern Ireland, these duties lie with the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI).)
Headquartered in Bootle, near Liverpool, the HSE headquarters address is:
There are also several other offices around the country. To find your nearest office or knowledge centre see this page on the HSE website.
The organisation acts in the public interest to reduce work-related death and serious injury across Great Britain’s workplaces. It is not the sole regulator, as in many cases local authorities are responsible for breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act etc 1974.
Since 2014 when the Care Act came into force, the Care Quality Commission has been responsible for undertaking some of the investigatory/regulatory work currently been undertaken by the HSE or the local authorities, when an incident causing harm, injury or death occurs to a person who is receiving care and support.
Commentary from HSE officials is often featured in SHP from its in-court stories, where the regulator is responsible for bringing prosecutions against individuals and companies.
As a regulator, the HSE’s aim is to prevent workplace death, injury or ill health, through using a variety of methods to influence change and help people manage risks at work.
They claim to work collaboratively with other regulators, agencies and government departments to ensure the most appropriate organisation intervenes. They do this by setting arrangements, where laws overlap, to:
They will not intervene if another regulator has specific responsibility for that area.
Local authorities (LAs) are responsible for regulating health and safety in lower-risk workplaces, such as:
The Health and Safety (Enforcing Authority) Regulations set out the allocation of premises between the HSE and local authorities.
The HSE retains a central policy role in setting its risk-based approach as outlined in the LA Enforcement Code.
Under the Control of Major Hazards Regulations 2015 (COMAH), it also regulates major hazards by working jointly, as a competent authority, with:
Offshore major hazard industries (oil and gas) are regulated jointly by us and the Department for Environment and Climate Change.
It supports the work of the Office for Nuclear Regulation, the Office of Road and Rail Regulation and the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency.
It also works closely with the Civil Aviation Authority and Maritime Coastguard Agency.
A complete list of all the regulators we have formal agreements with is available online.
For the latest HSE news stories, including prosecutions, follow SHP’s In Court page here and see a summary of the most recent news stories below.