On 30 March 2017, The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) published its business plan for 2017/18 in which it outlines its key objectives for the coming year. The Plan reviews the HSE’s achievements for 2016/17 and sets out four main areas in which it intends to continue to build on these:

Lead and engage with others to improve workplace health and safety. This includes delivering a three-year programme to reduce work related stress, musculoskeletal disorders and occupational lung disease; focussing on small and medium-sized enterprises to target groups where the HSE can have the most impact by introducing new approaches to help them manage health and safety more effectively; and reinforcing links with other regulators to share technical expertise and intelligence networks.

Provide an effective regulatory framework by managing its regulatory framework and approach in line with government policy; and contributing to the government’s work on the UK’s exit from the EU.

Secure effective management and control of risk by continuing to deliver around 20,000 proactive workplace inspections, focussing campaigns around activities found in high-risk industries; continuing to complete investigations in a timely manner; improving how the HSE shares learning to enhance the impact of intervention and enforcement action; and beginning to digitise the provision of its services.

Reduce the likelihood of low-frequency, high-impact catastrophic incidents, which focus on sectors such as offshore oil, gas and renewable energy, onshore chemical industry and mining to ensure risks are adequately controlled. Proposed measures include working with stakeholders to strengthen leadership across these sectors; participating in the government’s strategy on dealing with security and cyber security risks; developing its regulatory approach to decommissioning and ageing infrastructure; and targeting interventions which focus on risks from cooling towers, fairgrounds and major construction projects.

With an increased focus on these high risk energy sectors, we might expect to see more prosecutions in the future involving very large companies and, with them, an increase in fines, as health and safety failures within these sectors are more likely to result in serious consequences.