6.00 am, Tuesday 12th August 2003
reduces number of Investigations into Workplace Major
HSE is planning to reduce the number of major injuries
that its inspectors will investigate, and the amount
of time that its inspectors will spend on the investigations
that they do carry out.
plans are contained in new instructions that the HSE
have sent to its inspectors. The instruction to reduce
time spent on investigations is in force now throughout
Britain. The plan to reduce the number of investigations
is being piloted in the North West of England - though
the intention is for this to go Nationwide.
purpose of these changes is to increase the time that
its inspectors can spend on inspections and other
similiar 'preventative' activity.
HSE believes that the organisation has become too
focused on the investigation of deaths, injuries and
other incidents and should "restore a largely
preventative focus." HSE states in its new instruction
spent on investigation work by FOD has risen substantially
since the revised [investigation] criteria were
introduced in April 2001. With finite resources,
this work has been completed at the expense of
get a better balance FOD has looked at both its
management of investigations and the incident
selection criteria. FOD envisages an increase
in proactive activity to halfway between the current
position and that in 1995/96. This should still
meet the pressure to investigate a higher proportion
of reported injuries (than HSE did in the late
nineties) while restoring a largely preventive
time spent on investigations
HSE inspectors have been instructed to "conclude
investigations as early as possible" (para 4).
This instruction came into force in June 2003.
HSE argues that:
review of the time we spent on investigations last
year showed that while the number of investigations
had dropped, the total time spent on them had remained
the same. To help to sharpen the focus of our investigation
effort and better manage investigations we revised
existing FOD wide performance standards and included
new criteria for concluding investigation."
relation to this, David Bergman, Director of the CCA
it is important for HSE inspectors to investigate
efficiently, and for investigations to be properly
managed, there must be a concern that the explicit
instruction to "conclude investigations as
early as possible" could result in inspectors
feeling under pressure to conclude an inquiry with
undue haste when other reasonable lines of enquiry
could be made - even though this is not the intention
of the HSE."
The HSE has revised the criteria used by inspectors
to determine which of the reported injuries should
be investigated. These are currently being piloted
in the North West of England and the HSE admits that
they will "result in fewer investigations being
The new criteria will mean that:
longer will, "all amputations of digit(s)
past the first joint" be investigated.
Now, only those amputations of digits past the
first joint "where the incident involved
potential for more than one finger or for hand/arm
longer will there be a requirement to investigate
"serious multiple fractures (more than on
bone, not including wrist or ankle" from
Now it will only be necessary to investigate such
injuries is they result from a "crush injury"
or they are associated with "workplace transport"
or "falls from height"
will no longer be necessary to investigate "scalpings"
will no longer be necessary to investigate "any
incident which arose out of working in a confined
present the HSE investigates about 20% of major injuries
reported to it. In 2000/01 this was around 4,330 out
of 22,400 reported injuries(1))
- an increase from five years earlier where it only
investigated 10% of major injuries.
the HSE were to reduce the number of injuries investigated
to a level midway between 1996/7 and 2000/01 - around
1000 fewer injuries could be investigated constituting
a fall of 25% from the current levels. In effect a
total of 15% of major injuries will be investigated
- rather than 20% now and 10% five years ago.
HSE are however cautious in stating how many fewer
injuries will be investigated and what the percentages
have told the CCA that that it will be "actively
monitoring the pilot on an ongoing basis as it progresses
- so we will be aware of and able to respond to issues
as they arise." In addition the investigation
procedure will be internally audited by the HSE in
new instructions comes in the wake of a below inflation
increase in resources - announced by the Government
in December 2002. The effect of this, according to
CCA analysis, is that the £260 million that
the HSE can spend in 2005/6 is £12 million less
than the amount that a simple inflation increase (of
3%) would have given. It will in fact result in HSE
spending less money in 2005/6 than it will be spending
HSE however argues that these changes have nothing
to do with budget cuts - but how the HSE manages the
resources that it is given.
Bergman, Director of the CCA, stated:
proposal raises questions about whether the HSE
is adequately resourced. It is clear that the principle
way for the HSE to increase the level of inspections
and other preventative work is to decrease the level
of investigations. Whilst increasing the level of
inspections cannot be criticised, there must be
worries that the HSE can only do this by decreasing
the level of investigations.
the level of investigations will mean that the conduct
of those organisations responsible for the injuries
will not be scrutinised by HSE inspectors. This
will mean that the conditions that caused the injuries
may not be rectified. It will also result in a reduction
in the level of criminal accountability as without
an investigation no organisation or individual can
read a more detailed summary of the proposed changes
and its effects, and read the letter that the
HSE sends out to workers complaining that their
injuries have not been investigated click
here. To download the instructions click
obtain more information contact:
for Corporate Accountability
7 490 4494
1. These figures relate to Field Operations Directorate
which comprise 90% of HSE's activities. It is in FOD
that these changes are taking place.