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July 2, 2009

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HSE signs enforcement pledge with councils

The two main British health and safety enforcing bodies, the Health and

Safety Executive (HSE) and the Local Authorities Coordinators of

Regulatory Services (LACORS), have struck a new partnership to tackle

the £20 billion cost of workplace death, injury and illness.

A joint statement issued by the pair sets out their commitment to improved standards of partnership working — with the one overriding aim of preventing the death, injury and ill health of those at work and those affected by work activities.

 The deal commits councils and the HSE to implementing a new standard of        enforcement by March 2011, the so-called Section 18 standard, with which all enforcing authorities are required to comply.

The standard places a duty on the HSE and local authorities to put adequate resources into enforcement, work together effectively, and take a sensible approach to risk management. It sets out the arrangements the enforcers should put in place to meet this duty.

The deal was announced a week after new figures revealed that the number of workers killed in Britain last year fell to 180, the lowest level ever recorded, although 34 million working days are still lost each year due to work-related ill health and injury, costing the economy some £20 billion a year.

Geoffrey Podger, the HSE’s chief executive, admitted that no single organisation can successfully tackle the challenge of reducing work-related deaths, injuries and ill health in Britain. He said: “By working together, HSE and local authorities can put in place a robust, modern regulatory system that helps us improve protection for employees and support for employers in understanding how to comply with the law.”

Derek Allen, executive director of LACORS, urged: “We must join together to reject the trivialisation of the health and safety agenda — we cannot afford to be distracted by silly or frivolous issues, and must concentrate on protecting workers from serious injury, or death.”

Councils regulate health and safety in more than a million workplaces in Britain employing around half the workforce, including offices, shops, pubs and restaurants.

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