NAO to Hold inquiry into the work of the HSE
The National Audit Office (NAO) is undertaking an
inquiry into the role of the Health and Safety Executive
in improving health and safety in the Construction
This is the first inquiry by the NAO into the HSE
for 9 years. To see details of NAOs previous reports,
David Bergman, Director of the Centre for Corporate
is welcome that the NAO is looking into the effectiveness
of the HSE. However, it should be noted that the
NAO can only inquire into whether the HSE is using
its existing resources efficiently, and not whether
further resources are required
CCA was approached by the NAO in 1999 concerning
a possible inquiry into the HSE. To download the
letter sent to the NAO from the CCA at that time,
current inquiry is part of the NAOs "programme
of value for money studies" into specific government
activities and programmes
The NAO has already carried out preliminary investigations
to identity the main issues and methodology for the
study and is currently carrying out the studys
fieldwork. As part of this, the NAO has written to
stakeholders, including the Centre for Corporate Accountability.
The following is an extract from the letter
HSEs primary objective is to ensure that peoples
health and safety from work activities are properly
controlled. This is particularly important in the
construction industry which, in 2001-02, contributed
79 of the 249 (32 per cent) of the fatal injuries
to workers. The National Audit Office is carrying
out an investigation to ascertain whether the HSE
has effective strategies in place to secure improvements
in the health and safety record of the construction
industry, and what effect these are having. Specifically,
we are examining three issues.
the HSEs strategies and programmes appropriate
and based on sound evidence?
the HSEs strategies and programmes making
an impact on the control and management of health
and safety risks?
the barriers to improvements in the construction
industrys health and safety record being
CCA is holding a seminar to bring together trade unions,
safety organisations, other stakeholders and bereaved
families to discuss these issues.
NAO says that they will review
HSEs performance by:
analysis and document review at HSE;
and work shadowing of HSE staff
stakeholders to develop case studies on the
impact of HSEs strategies; and
best practice in evaluation techniques and comparing
HSEs approach with these
will focus on what HSE is doing to: reach key groups
in the construction industry such as the
government as client and CDM duty holders
and the techniques used to reach these audiences;
and its work to address specific problems such a
falls from heights."
NAO has posed the following questions for stakeholders
the HSE have a good understanding of the construction
industry, its health and safety record, and the
factors which influence it?
the HSEs analysis and research relevant?
the HSE established the right priorities to bring
about improvements to the sectors health
and safety record?
the HSEs strategies and programmes targeted
the HSEs targets and programmes reflect
the diverse nature of the construction industry?
the HSEs targets and programmes expand concentrate
sufficiently on the different stages of the construction
which areas is the HSE performing well and in
which areas does it need to perform better?
has changed as a result of the application of
the HSEs strategies and programmes?
the HSEs strategies and programmes led to
any unintended outcomes?
is your opinion on the HSEs approach to
improving occupational health in the construction
are the main barriers to improvement in the construction
industrys health and safety record?
steps is your organisation taking to improve health
and safety in the construction industry?
what way does your organisation work with the
HSE to improve health and safety in the construction
there any lessons that could be learnt from the
regulation of health and safety in the construction
industry in other countries?
Here to find out what happens once the report
Further Information contact the CCA on 020 7490 4494
The NAO can be contacted on 020 7798 7000. To see
its website, click
to CCA Press Releases
Notes to Editors
Centre for Corporate Accountability is an independent
nonprofit advice, research and lobbying group at
the forefront of seeking to ensure that health and
safety law is properly enforced and that deaths
and injuries resulting from corporate activities
are subject to adequate criminal investigations,
and, where appropriate, prosecution and effective
sanctions. It's charitable activities are funded
by Joseph Rowntrees Charitable Trust.
The Centre runs a Work Related Death Advice Service
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are two NAO reports
To download the 1994 Report, Click
download the 1985 Report, Click
happens when the report is published?
published NAO report is used as the basis for
a hearing of the Committee of Public Accounts,
a senior committee of the House of Commons traditionally
chaired by an opposition Member - currently Edward
audited body's Accounting Officer appears as the
main witness, and the Committee members' questions
are directed towards him or her. The Accounting
Officer may be supported by staff from the department/agency
with knowledge of the matters under discussion.
In the case of the HSE, the Accounting Officer
is the Director General, Timothy Walker
Treasury Officer of Accounts also appears as a
witness, as does the head of the National Audit
Office, the Comptroller and Auditor General (it
is rare for either to be asked a question by Members).
on the hearing the Committee produces its own
report, which contains recommendations for action
by the body under scrutiny.
Treasury co-ordinates the audited body's response
to the recommendations - this is formally known
as the Treasury Minute. We will follow up the
response to ensure that recommendations have been