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Published:  02 April, 2008

The Health and Safety Commission (HSC) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have been merged to form a single national regulatory body responsible for promoting the cause of better health and safety at work. The Government says that the merged body – also called the Health and Safety Executive – will provide greater clarity and transparency while maintaining its public accountability.

The decision to merge HSC and HSE was reached after extensive public consultation process in which 80% of respondents favoured the move.

The HSC and HSE were originally established as two, separate, non-departmental bodies with working practices and powers designed to distance the Commission from the day-to-day working of the Executive.

Following the merger:
• there will be a single national regulatory body responsible for promoting the cause of better health and safety at work;
• there will be no change in health and safety requirements, how they are enforced, or how stakeholders relate to the health and safety regulator;
• no health and safety protections will be removed;
• all the fundamental contents of the Health & Safety at Work Act will remain; and
• none of the statutory functions of the previous Commission and Executive will be removed.

"The Health and Safety Commission and Health and Safety Executive have done an excellent job over the past 30 years in bringing about significant improvements to health and safety at work," says the health and safety minister, Lord McKenzie. "However, to face the challenges and demands of the changing world of work, now is the right time to merge the organisations into one which can provide a platform for further improvements to health and safety at work across Great Britain."

Judith Hackitt

The new-look HSE is chaired by Judith Hackitt (above), who was appointed chair of the HSC last October. "The new Health and Safety Executive will strengthen the importance of workplace health and safety in Great Britain," she says. "With a single regulatory body, we will be able to strengthen the links between strategy and delivery in order to provide the accountability expected of a public body in today’s workplace climate.

"The merger will not change the day-to-day operations fundamentally," Hackitt adds, "but will set the tone for closer working throughout the organisation. HSE will build on the independence, good relationships with stakeholders and, in particular, our relationship with local authorities to develop a revised strategy for health and safety in Great Britain."

HSE will retain its independence, reflecting the interests of employers, employees and local authorities. The Board of the new Executive will be responsible for running all aspects of the organisation, including setting the overall strategic direction, financial and performance management and prioritisation of resources.

HSE will be reviewing its strategy to develop a long-term plan for the next five years, which will be published towards the end of 2008.

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