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HSE’s Chair pays tribute to George Brechin

The Chair of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has paid tribute to fellow Board member George Brechin OBE, who passed away on Saturday 17 October after a short illness.

Sarah Newton said:

“We all feel great sadness about this news. 

“In addition to being the senior member of the Board, offering guidance to his peers to help them settle in and make an effective contribution to HSE’s governance, George worked closely with colleagues leading HSE’s EU Exit Programme, providing assurance to the Board that this immensely important work was continuing at the right pace and delivering its objective of supporting the work to prepare the United Kingdom for a future outside of the European Union. He was also a member of the Board’s Renumeration and People Committee; a role which was reflective of his interest in our people.

“George took every opportunity to engage with HSE colleagues. He particularly valued the insight into the work of the various parts of the organisation that he gained from these opportunities. His interest was genuine and he was always very gracious in recognising everyone’s contribution to our mission, particularly at Board meetings.

“He will be sorely missed by the health and safety community in Scotland where his connections and understanding of working in a devolved nation made him a brilliant Chair of the Partnership on Health and Safety in Scotland (PHASS). His meticulous attention to fairness and balance (and his good humour) at PHASS events encouraged mutual respect amongst partners from very different viewpoints and constituencies. George’s knowledge but above all his commitment made him such a strong leader in HSE’s work to engage with others to improve workplace health and safety.

“George epitomised what it is to be a public servant. Starting at the Department of Health in London in 1972, he moved to the NHS in Scotland in 1988, holding three NHS Trust Chief Executive posts before his appointment to NHS Fife. ‘Retirement’ however did not slow him down. He was also a non-executive Board Member of Food Standards Scotland, Chair of the Scottish Teachers’ Pension Board and had recently been appointed as Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland. He was awarded the OBE in 2013.

“HSE and those who benefit from our work owe George a huge debt of gratitude.

“My thoughts, and those of the HSE Board, are with George’s family, friends and colleagues, both in HSE and the other organisations in which he served, who had the honour to know him and benefit from his wise counsel.”

Mims Davies, the Minister for Employment, said:

“George was an influential figure on the HSE Board, having served for over eight years alongside Dame Judith Hackitt, Martin Temple and Sarah Newton. A Board member who was extremely well respected by all who worked with him and also amongst the wide variety of HSE stakeholders. He will be greatly missed by the HSE Board and the wider organisation.”

 

 

 

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HSE and Sefton Council target Liverpool City Region for COVID-secure spot inspections

Sefton Council is one of many local authorities working with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) checking on businesses to make sure they are COVID-secure.

Sefton is part of the Liverpool City Region that has just been placed in the highest lockdown tier following discussions between central and local government.

HSE inspectors and Sefton Council’s Environmental Health officers have been conducting spot checks and inspections on businesses from all different sectors in the area to check they are following government guidelines.

Being COVID-secure means that businesses need to put adjustments in place to manage the risk from coronavirus to protect workers, visitors and customers.

Sefton Council is responsible for the enforcement of health and safety legislation in sectors which includes shops, pubs and restaurants, whereas HSE regulates health and safety in areas such as construction and manufacturing.

By putting in COVID-secure measures to protect employees, visitors and members of the local community, it will help businesses to continue to operate which is key to the local economy.

Sally Nicholson, HSE Head of Operations, North West, said: “Across the country we are working with local authorities, like Sefton Council, ensuring businesses are checked and are COVID-secure.

“All workplaces are in scope which means businesses of any size, in any sector can receive an unannounced check, by us or a local authority.

“If you are contacted by the HSE or your local authority, please engage with us as it is your duty to ensure employees and visitors at a workplace are protected from the virus.

“By making sure that businesses have measures in place to manage the risks, we can benefit the health of local communities as well as support the local and national UK economy.”

During the checks, advice and guidance can be provided to help the business to implement work practices that reduce the risk of virus transmission, but where businesses are not managing this, enforcement action can be taken. This can range from the provision of specific advice, issuing enforcement notices, stopping certain work practices until they are made safe and, where businesses fail to comply, prosecution.

Cllr Paulette Lappin, from Sefton Council, said: “As the Liverpool City Region has further lockdown measures in place, ensuring workplaces are COVID-secure needs to remain a main priority for all businesses in Sefton and beyond.

“It is a legal duty for businesses to protect their workers and others from harm and this includes taking reasonable steps to control the risk and protect people from coronavirus.

“Being COVID-secure can help reduce these risks and we want every business in the borough to follow the guidelines that ultimately protects our communities.

“Working with the HSE has enabled us to target the whole of the Sefton area from small businesses to large manufacturers, whether Local Authority or HSE enforced, ensuring all workplaces understand the importance of being COVID-secure.”

HSE and local authority inspectors are finding some common issues across a range of sectors that include: failing to provide arrangements for monitoring, supervising and maintaining social distancing, and failing to introduce an adequate cleaning regime particularly at busy times of the day.

For more information on HSE’s spot checks and inspections, see www.hse.gov.uk/campaigns/spot-inspections.htm

For the latest information and safer business guidance, see www.gov.uk

/Ends

 

Notes to Editors:

  1. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. We prevent work-related death, injury and ill health through regulatory actions that range from influencing behaviours across whole industry sectors through to targeted interventions on individual businesses. These activities are supported by globally recognised scientific expertise. https://www.hse.gov.uk
  2. Local Authorities have the same enforcement responsibilities and powers as the HSE for certain types of businesses within their area, including shops, restaurants, licenced premises, offices and warehouses.
  3. HSE news releases are available at https://press.hse.gov.uk

For HSE’s working safely guidance see https://www.hse.gov.uk/coronavirus/working-safely/index.htm

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Transport company fined after employee fatally crushed

A transport company has been fined after a worker was fatally injured when the pallet of stone tiles he was attempting to deliver fell onto him.

High Wycombe Magistrates’ Court heard how, on 23 November 2016, an agency driver was carrying out a delivery for Reason Transport UK Limited at Fraser Road, High Wycombe. The driver was delivering a pallet of stone tiles using a tail-lift and a manual pallet truck. He spent several minutes struggling to lift and manoeuvre the pallet onto the truck’s tail-lift. When he eventually succeeded in doing so, he lost control of the pallet, which fell onto him, causing him to suffer fatal crush injuries.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the weight of the pallet was recorded as 1,200 kg but the actual weight of the pallet was in excess of 1,400 kg. The pallet was therefore in excess of the 1,000 kg weight limit set by the pallet network for tail-lift deliveries. The investigation also found that the driver had worked for the company for two weeks and had not received any training for the safe delivery of pallets using a tail-lift.

Reason Transport UK Limited, now in liquidation, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and have been fined £5,000.

After the hearing HSE inspector Stephen Faulkner said: “This was a tragic and wholly avoidable incident, caused by the failure of the host company to provide training to this agency worker on the safe delivery of pallets from a vehicle with a tail-lift.

“Transport companies should be aware of the importance of identifying and managing the risks involved with delivering heavy loads and the need to adequately train new staff before undertaking such deliveries.”

Notes to editors 

  1. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. We prevent work-related death, injury and ill health through regulatory actions that range from influencing behaviours across whole industry sectors through to targeted interventions on individual businesses. These activities are supported by globally recognised scientific expertise. www.hse.gov.uk[1]
  2. More about the legislation referred to in this case can be found at: www.legislation.gov.uk[2]
  3. HSE news releases are available at http://press.hse.gov.uk

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Spot checks and inspections at schools in Scotland

Using coloured spots to highlight frequency touched points and introducing alternatives to staggered start and stop times were some of the examples of good practice carried out by schools in Scotland to ensure they are COVID-secure.

These are some of the examples of good practice discovered by Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspectors after carrying out a programme of COVID-secure school spot checks in Scotland regarding the implementation of school reopening guidance.

Since August, a total of 500 schools have been contacted to check they are COVID-secure and compliant with the Scottish government’s school reopening guidance.

To give a representative sample of schools across Scotland, 16 local authorities were selected for the focus of the checks, and a proportionate number of primary schools and secondary schools were selected in each area. In addition, a sample of Additional Support Needs (ASN) schools and independent schools were also contacted.

Following the initial calls, HSE found around 80% of schools had a good understanding on being COVID-secure. Where levels of compliance were less certain in 100 schools, HSE undertook follow-up site visits.

Harvey Wild, Head of HSE’s Transport and Public Services Unit, said: “In our view the Scottish government’s school reopening guidance was very good quality, and was viewed positively by schools in what can only be described as very challenging circumstances.

“It appeared to be flexible enough to be implemented appropriately in different settings and adapted to local circumstances ensuring most schools we contacted were COVID-secure.

“The majority of schools in Scotland reacted very quickly to implement new measures. For those schools where compliance was less certain, formal spot inspections were carried out by a team of HSE inspectors.

“This enabled the inspectors to go to the schools and see what COVID-secure measures were in place so they could then offer formal advice and guidance where needed.”

All the HSE spot inspections at schools in Scotland were completed by the beginning of October and, based on the inspections undertaken, HSE found no need for any formal interventions requiring improvement. Any areas of concerns were dealt with by verbal advice.

Our inspectors did find some common areas of concern where schools needed to make changes. This centred around social distancing in staff room areas, cleaning regimes and ventilation in school buildings.

For ventilation, most schools were relying on windows and doors being open for long periods of time and HSE’s feeling was that schools/local authorities may need to conduct a simple risk assessment of fresh air in schools. In light of this the Scottish Government developed further guidance to assist schools – see www.gov.scot

Harvey Wild added: “While highlighting some areas of concern to schools, our inspectors also found some novel and new examples of good practice.

“Regarding social distancing, one primary school had considered replacing the two metre lines to separate teachers from pupils with a painting of a river, to help pupils understand the concept of not crossing it.

“Another school introduced creative alternatives to staggered start and stop times by using multiple exits at the same time. This prevented parents waiting for long periods of time at the school gate.

“These examples show how well most schools have adopted COVID-secure measures, but there can’t be room for complacency. Ensuring a school has measures in place to manage any COVID risks can only benefit the health of the local community they serve.”

For more information on being COVID-secure, visit www.hse.gov.uk and for details on spot checks and inspections www.hse.gov.uk/campaigns/spot-inspections.htm 

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

1. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. We prevent work-related death, injury and ill health through regulatory actions that range from influencing behaviours across whole industry sectors through to targeted interventions on individual businesses. These activities are supported by globally recognised scientific expertise. https://www.hse.gov.uk
2. HSE news releases are available at https://press.hse.gov.uk
3. For HSE’s working safely guidance see https://www.hse.gov.uk/coronavirus/working-safely/index.htm

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Council fined after teacher assaulted by pupil

Luton Borough Council has been sentenced today after a teacher was assaulted by a pupil.

Luton Crown Court heard how on 17 June 2016, the assistant head teacher at Putteridge High School was called to deal with a disruptive pupil who was refusing to go into a detention room. After clearing the classroom of the other pupils, the pupil launched a sustained assault on the teacher, using a mobile phone and inflicting life changing injuries.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that there were significant shortcomings in relation to the measures at the school, regarding violence and aggression posed by the pupils to others. No effective consideration was given to the risk of injury or death posed by the pupils to others and measures were not taken to reduce that threat to as low as reasonably practicable.

Luton Borough Council did not ensure that the school had people with sufficient competence in the management of health and safety involved in running the school to ensure that the threat was addressed. The Council did not see to it that staff members at the school had the training either to remedy that shortcoming or to deal with violent and aggressive pupils in a way which did not expose them to risk. The council also failed to monitor the adequacy of the measures Putteridge High School had in place and the council therefore failed to pick up and address the shortcomings.

Luton Borough Council of Town Hall Upper George Street Luton pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £104,000 with £60,000 costs. The fine was reduced from £300,000 due to the Council’s lack of revenue as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Her Honour Judge Mensah in sentencing said: “There is no doubt in my mind that this was a properly brought prosecution. Not to have brought a prosecution in this serious case would, apart from anything else, have sent a completely wrong message to the school, its governors, the staff and pupils, other local authorities with responsibilities under the Education Acts and to the public generally.

“This was a large organisation which, to a very large extent, relied on employees conducting the day to day running of the school as it could not, and did not, have complete control over the daily functioning of the school. However, I am satisfied that the systems that were in place were inadequate and oversight by the local authority was ‘light’ – I accept that no concerns were brought to the attention of the local authority but that equally, it does not appear that the local authority invited matters to be brought to its attention.”

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Emma Page said: “In community schools, where the local authority is the employer, the local authority must monitor the arrangements it’s schools have in place to manage the risk from violence and aggression”.

 

Notes to Editors:

  1. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. We prevent work-related death, injury and ill health through regulatory actions that range from influencing behaviours across whole industry sectors through to targeted interventions on individual businesses. These activities are supported by globally recognised scientific expertise. www.hse.gov.uk
  2. More about the legislation referred to in this case can be found at: www.legislation.gov.uk/
  3. HSE news releases are available at http://press.hse.gov.uk

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MoD accepts Crown Censure over fatal diving incident

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has been issued with a Crown Censure by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after a military diver died during training.

On 14 November 2018, 26-year-old Marine Benjamin McQueen was brought back to surface after he became separated from other divers. He was sadly pronounced dead after CPR was performed.

He had been involved in a maritime training exercise when the incident occurred in Portland Harbour.

HSE served two Crown Improvement Notices on 25 February 2019 relating to the failure to conduct suitable and sufficient risk assessments for the exercise. MoD rectified these issues by 12 March 2019.

Nick Deppe, an HSE inspector who specialises in diving, said: “This was a tragedy for all concerned, however just like any other employer, the MoD has a responsibility to reduce dangers to its personnel, as far as they properly can. The scenario of a diver becoming separated is a very real risk that needs to be managed.”

By accepting the Crown Censure, the MoD has acknowledged that but for crown immunity, there was sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction for breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

Notes to Editors: 

  1. As a Government body, the MoD cannot face prosecution in the same way as private or commercial organisations this is known as Crown Immunity.
  2. Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, states that: “It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees”.
  3. There is no financial penalty associated with a Crown Censure.
  4. More information on Crown Censures can be found here: http://www.hse.gov.uk/enforce/enforcementguide/investigation/approving-enforcement.htm [1]
  5. The Code for Crown Prosecutors [2] sets out the principles for prosecutors to follow when they make enforcement decisions. HSE’s approach to Crown Censure is set out in its enforcement policy statement[3].

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HSE to prosecute Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (EPUFT)

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecution is being brought against Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (EPUFT) following an investigation into North Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (NEPUFT).

HSE has investigated how NEPUFT managed environmental risks from fixed potential ligature points in its inpatient wards between 25 October 2004 and 31 March 2015.

Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust of The Lodge, Lodge Approach, Runwell Wickford, Essex will face a charge under Section 3(1) Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

The first hearing is due to take place on 12 November 2020 at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court.

 

Notes to Editors

  1. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. We prevent work-related death, injury and ill health through regulatory actions that range from influencing behaviours across whole industry sectors through to targeted interventions on individual businesses. These activities are supported by globally recognised scientific expertise. www.hse.gov.uk
  2. More about the legislation referred to in this case can be found at: www.legislation.gov.uk/
  3. HSE news releases are available at http://press.hse.gov.uk
  4. Until the 1 April 2015, decisions whether or not to investigate patient safety matters in England were made in line with our HSWA Section 3 policy: http://www.hse.gov.uk/enforce/hswact/priorities.htm. After this date, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) became the lead inspection and enforcement body under the Health and Social Care Act 2008 for safety and quality of treatment and care matters involving patients and service users in receipt of a health or adult social care service from a provider registered with CQC.
  5. HSE has not investigated individual patient deaths as this does not fall within our remit.
  6. The investigation timescales predate the existence of Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust which came into existence when North Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (NEPUFT) merged with another trust.

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Health and Safety Executive cracks down on dust

Health and safety inspectors across Great Britain will be targeting construction firms to check that their health standards are up to scratch during a month-long inspection initiative, starting on Monday 5 October 2020.

This is the fourth health-focused initiative of its kind. As in previous years, inspections will focus on respiratory risks and occupational lung disease; looking at the measures businesses have in place to protect their workers’ lungs from the likes of asbestos, silica and wood dust. This is part of HSE’s longer term health and work strategy to improve health within the construction industry.

While the primary focus will be on health during this programme of inspections, if a HSE inspector identifies any other areas of concern, they will take the necessary enforcement action to deal with them. This will include making sure that businesses are doing all they can to protect their workers from the risk of coronavirus and make workplaces COVID-secure.

Construction initiative starts 5 October
Inspectors to focus on respiratory risks

Inspectors will also be looking for evidence of employers and workers knowing the risks, planning their work and using the right controls. If necessary, they will use enforcement to make sure people are protected.

The construction initiative will be supported by HSE’s ‘Dustbuster’ campaign, aimed to influence employer behaviour by encouraging builders to download free guidance and advice, increasing knowledge and capability to protect workers’ health.

More than 3,500 builders die each year from cancers related to their work, with thousands more cases of ill-health and working days lost.

HSE’s chief inspector of construction, Sarah Jardine, said: “Around 100 times as many workers die from diseases caused or made worse by their work than are actually killed in construction accidents.

“Our inspection initiatives ensure that inspectors are able to speak to dutyholders and visit sites to look at the kind of action businesses in the construction industry are taking right now to protect their workers’ health, particularly when it comes to exposure to dust and damage to lungs.

“There are a few simple things that everyone can do to make sure they are protecting their health and their future. Be aware of the risks associated with activities you do every day, recognise the dangers of hazardous dust and consider how it can affect your health. We want businesses and their workers to think of the job from start to finish and avoid creating dust by working in different ways to keep dust down and wear the right mask and clothing.”

For more information on the programme of inspections follow the campaign on Twitter at @H_S_E, or on Facebook @hsegovuk and @SaferSites. You can also join the conversation at #Dustbuster. To sign up for HSE’s construction e-bulletin go to: hse.gov.uk/construction/infonet.htm

Notes to Editors:

  1. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. We prevent work-related death, injury and ill health through regulatory actions that range from influencing behaviours across whole industry sectors through to targeted interventions on individual businesses. These activities are supported by globally recognised scientific expertise. hse.gov.uk
  2. HSE news releases are available at http://press.hse.gov.uk

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Scaffolding company and director fined following fall from height fatality

Wembley Scaffolding Services Limited has been fined following an incident where a worker fell five metres and suffered a fatal head injury.

Southwark Crown Court heard how, on 16 February 2017, two operatives were dismantling a scaffold on Cricklewood Broadway, London, during this process the scaffold collapsed resulting in one of the operatives falling at least five metres onto a concrete pavement, causing serious head injuries. He later died from these injuries on 4 March 2017.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Wembley Scaffolding Services Limited’s director, Sean Chapple, failed to carry out a suitable risk assessment, plan the work and provide a design for erection and dismantling of the scaffold. Sean Chapple himself was not knowledgeable about the measures required to do this without putting people at risk and therefore didn’t follow the correct measures to ensure safe erection and dismantling of the scaffold.

Wembley Scaffolding Services Limited, Hillier Hopkins Llp, Radius House, Clarendon Road, Watford, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 3(3)(b) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and 8(b)ii; Section 33(1)(c) of the Health and Safety at work etc. Act 1974. The company was fined £7,860 and ordered to pay costs of £8,940.

Director, Sean Chapple of York Road, Northwood pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 8(2)(ii) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005; sections 33(1)(a) and 37(1) of the Act; Section 33(2) and Schedule 3A to the Act (as amended by section 1 of the Health and Safety (Offences) Act 2008. He was fined £1,000, received a 12 week prison sentence suspended for one year and was ordered to pay costs of £11,000.

After the hearing HSE inspector Saif Deen said: “This tragic incident led to the avoidable death of a young man. The case highlights the importance of following industry guidance in order to design and erect scaffolding in a safe manner, to prevent risk to workers using the scaffold. The death could have been prevented had the employer acted to identify and manage the risks involved, and to put a safe system of work in place.”

 

 

Notes to Editors:

  1. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. We prevent work-related death, injury and ill health through regulatory actions that range from influencing behaviours across whole industry sectors through to targeted interventions on individual businesses. These activities are supported by globally recognised scientific expertise. www.hse.gov.uk
  2. More about the legislation referred to in this case can be found at: www.legislation.gov.uk/ [2]
  3. HSE news releases are available at http://press.hse.gov.uk
  1. Further information about scaffolding available at  https://www.hse.gov.uk/construction/safetytopics/scaffoldinginfo.htm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Company fined after fatal incident using high pressure water jetting equipment

A specialist industrial services company has been fined after a worker suffered a fatal injury whilst cleaning waste-water pipes.

Birmingham Magistrates’ Court heard how, on 18 June 2017, Joseph McDonald, an employee of Leadec Limited, was using high-pressure water jetting equipment to clear paint residue from pipes in the paint shop at a car manufacturing site in Solihull. During the process Mr McDonald was struck by the end of flexi-lance, causing a fatal injury.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the company recognised the risks of operating high-pressure water jetting equipment, but they had failed to put in place appropriate measures to mitigate the risks. They had not implemented or enforced the use of various control measures such as a pressure regulator or an anti-ejection device, which were missing at the time of the incident and, training and supervision were also not up to standard.

Leadec Limited of Leadec House, Academy Drive, Warwick pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £2,000,000 and ordered to pay £30,000 in costs.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Richard Littlefair said: “Companies must understand that high risk activities require a thorough risk assessment process and robust management systems to protect their employees from risk of serious or fatal injuries.

“It is not good enough for companies to assume they are doing all they can to control the risk just because there have been no previous incidents. Joseph McDonald’s death could have been prevented had Leadec Limited had the necessary control measures and management systems in place to protect its employees.”

 

Notes to Editors:

  1. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. We prevent work-related death, injury and ill health through regulatory actions that range from influencing behaviours across whole industry sectors through to targeted interventions on individual businesses. These activities are supported by globally recognised scientific expertise. www.hse.gov.uk
  2. More about the legislation referred to in this case can be found at: www.legislation.gov.uk/
  3. HSE news releases are available at http://press.hse.gov.uk

 

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