Advice & Assistance
Researh & Briefings
Deaths, Inquests & Prosecutions
Corporate  Crime & safety Database
Safety Statistics
Obtaining Safety Information
CCA Responses to Consultation Documents
CCA Advocacy
CCA Press Releases
CCA Publications
Support the CCA
Search the CCA site
Contact Us
Quick Links ->
Research & Briefings

Health and Safety Commission

This page gives you a summary of the purpose and functions of the Health and Safety Commission (HSC).

The Commission is central to issues relating to the enforcement of health and safety in Britain. It however does not enforce health and safety law directly - this is the job of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) - the 'operational' arm of the Health and Safety Commission - and Local Authorities.

In general terms, whilst the HSE does what the HSC asks it to do, the HSC itself does what the Government - currently through the Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions (DTLR) - asks it to do. However, the Commission does have an important level of autonomy and the Government is not in a position to simply 'bulldoze' policies though the Commission.

You will find a summary of these relationships below. However, the Health and Safety Commission has published a document called the "Framework of Accountabilities" that sets out the relationship between the Commission, the Government and the Executive.If youwould like to download it

This document, "Framework of Accountabilities" refers to a number of annexes. Click here if you would like to access these.

The Commission only has responsibility for land-based work-related safety issues.

The Commissioners
HSC meetings and access to agendas, minutes and papers
Duties of the HSC
The HSC's Open Government Policy
The HSC and the Government
The HSC and the Executive
The HSC Advisory Committees
The HSC and Resources
HSC's New Enforcement Policy Statement
HSC and Company Annual Reports
HSC Consultation Documents
The Commission and the CCA

The Commissioners
The Health and Safety Commission is established by section 10 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The Commission consists of a number of "commissioners" - a Chairman and between six to nine other commissioners all of whom are appointed by the Government - and a small number of civil servants.

The Act states that three of the Commissioners should be appointed only after consulting organisations which represent "employers" and another three after consultation with organisations that represent "employees". In effect, therefore, three of the commissioners are seen as "employer" representatives and another three, as "employee" representatives.

If the government decided to have more than six commissioners, the Act states that it should only appoint them after consulting with organisations that represent Local Authorities and other organisations that promote health and safety.

The following individuals are currently commissioners:

Bill Callaghan Chairman
George Brumwell Employee Representative
Margaret Burns Employer Representative
Abdul Chowdry Nominated by the Scottish Consumer Council
Judith Donavan Employer Representative
Cllr Joyce Edmond-Smith Local Authority Representative
Judith Hackett Employer Representative
Maureen Rooney OBE Employee Representative
John Longworth Employer Representative
Owen Tudor Employee Representative

The Commission has a Code of Practice for Commissioners. This requires commissioners, amongst other things, to declare their interests. The CCA has obtained the register from the HSC. If you would like to see this, click here.


HSC Commission Meetings
The HSC holds meetings on a fortnightly basis. It is at these meetings that the Commission makes all its key decisions

Each meeting has the following documents that are now publicly available:

  • agendas
  • papers
  • minutes

These documents, relating to Commission meetings since October 2000 are now available on the HSC website.


Duties of the Commission
The 1974 Act sets out a range of duties which the Commission must undertake. This includes the general duty to "do such things and make such arrangements as it considers appropriate" to fulfil the purposes of the Act. The HSC's "Framework of Accountabilities" (see above) states that in effect:

"these arrangements make the Commission, subject to the authority of the relevant Secretary of State, the prime mover in relation to the regulation of health and safety at work. This involves proposing and setting necessary standards, on which the Commission is advised by the Executive, and - through HSE - securing compliance with those standards and undertaking other forms of activity designed to stimulate or support necessary action on the part of people and organisations who create potential harm."
The documents summarises the Commission's main duties as:
  • submitting proposals for regulations to Ministers after consultation with appropriate government departments and other bodies
  • arranging for the provision of information and advice to Ministers amongst others
  • arranging for the operation of an information and advisory service
  • arranging for research to be carried out and published and encouraging research by others;
  • arranging for the provision of training and information and encouraging their provision by others;
It summarises the "powers of action" that the Commission has available to it in the following manner.
  • approving and issuing codes of practice;
  • making agreements with government departments
  • giving guidance to local Authorities on enforcement
  • directing the Health and Safety Executive to investigate and report on incidents or other matters and directing inquiries to be held;
  • appointing committees
  • providing any services, facilities or information required by a Government Department or public authority..


The HSC's Open Government Policy
The HSC has what it calls an "open Government policy". If you would like to see the text of this policy, click here

If you would like to know what information is available from the Health and Safety Commission or the Executive and how to obtain it, please click here


The HSC and the Government:
The Commission has a complicated 'constitutional' relationship with the Government. Although the HSC is an independent body:-

(a) it is accountable to the Government

(b) it requires in relation to a number of its functions, the consent of the Government. So, for example, the Commission can only approve and issue 'codes of practice' with the Government's agreement;

(c) it can be directed to do particular things by the Government.


The HSC and the HSE
The Commission also has a complicated relationship with the Health and Safety Executive. Section 11(4) of the 1974 Act states that it shall be the duty of the Executive to "exercise on behalf of the commission such of the Commission's functions as the Commission directs it to exercise." In July 1976, the Commission gave a directive to the HSE stating that the Executive should "prepare proposals for the decision of the Commission", "make recommendations to the Commission from time to time", "carry out the Commission Decisions" and take responsibility for the Employment Medical Advisory Service. To see the text of this letter, click here

This means, in effect, that the Executive does most of the background work upon which the Commission can then make its decisions. So, for example, although it is the Commission which actually issues Codes of Practice and makes the final decision on their content (with the consent of the Government), the drafting itself is done by the Health and Safety Executive.

There is one broad exception to the Commission's control of the Executive; the Commission can not give the Executive "any directions as to the enforcement of any of the relevant statutory provisions in a particular case". That means that the Commission can not direct that the Executive, for example, to prosecute a company in relation to a particular incident. But what the Commission can do (and does) is publish an Enforcement Policy Statement which sets out the criteria that the Executive should use in deciding when to prosecute. This statement was, of course, drafted by the HSE, before the Commission considered it, commented on it and finally agreed it


Advisory Committees to the Health and Safety Commission

The Commission has established a number of Advisory Committees - divided by 'subject' or 'industry'. To see these, click here.


The Government gives a certain sum of money - known as a 'grant-in-aid' - to the Commission, a small proportion of which it will keep for its own activities, with the remaining being given to the HSE.

In the year 2000/2001, the government gave the Commission £189,400,000 (i.e about £189 million). It kept £611,000 for itself and gave the remaining £188,7897,000 to the Health and Safety Executive.

The Health and Safety Executive also raises money by levying fees and charges - £52 million last year.


HSC's New Enforcement Policy Statement
After a long period of consultation, the Health and Safety Commission published a new Enforcement Policy Statement in January 2002. The Statement sets out how inspectors, both from the Health and Safety Executive and Local Authorities, should use their powers - in particular those relating to the prosecution of organisations and individuals - to enforce health and safety law.

•To download the new EPS, click here (PDF document).
•To see how the new statement differs from the previous statement and to see CCA's comments on the new statement click here. and look at the analysis section on the newsletter.
•To see documents relating to the consultation process, click here.

HSC and Company Annual Reports
The HSC has published guidance, entitled "Health and safety in annual reports" which sets out how a company should address health and safety issues in their published annual report and sets out the HSC’s views on the minimum health and safety content of such reports.

To read about:
• background to the voluntary guidance
• what guidance says;
• CCA’s view on this document;
• new research by the HSE on company annual reports;
Click Here

HSC Consultation Documents

The Commissoin has published a number of consultation documents which are of interest to law enforcement and corporate accountability issues and which the CCA has responded. Click below for papers relating to each of these consultations.


The HSC and the CCA
Subsequent to the conclusion of the Inquiry by the Select Committee on Environment, Transport and the Regions into the work of the Health and Safety Executive - at which the CCA had given written and oral evidence - the Commission agreed to meet up with the Centre on 28 March 2000.

In preparation for this meeting, the CCA had prepared a document. To see a summary of this document click here. If you wish to download the document
click here.


The Commissioners

Back to top

Mr Bill Callaghan.
Appointment as Chair of the Health and Safety Commission commenced on 1 October 1999. He was previously the Chief Economist and Head of the Economic and Social Affairs Department at the TUC. He has considerable experience of working with different groups in industry and public life and has served on the boards of Business in the Community and the Basic Skills Agency. He has a particular interest in developing partnerships between trade unions and employers at the workplace and at national level. He served on the Low Pay Commission from 1997 - 2000. He was also a member of the Economic and Social Research Council's Research Priorities Board. He is a Visiting Fellow of Nuffield College Oxford.


Mr George Brumwell.
Appointment commenced on 1 April 1998. He is General Secretary of the Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians. He is a member of the Labour Party National Policy Forum and the TUC's Executive Committee and General Council. He is a long-time member of the Construction Industry Training Board and a board member of the Construction Skills Certification Scheme for the Construction Industry. He is an Executive Committee Member of the European and International Federation of Building and Wood Unions.


Ms Margaret Burns.
Appointment commenced on 1 April 1998. She is a part-time tutor of Public Law at the University of Aberdeen. She has taught in the law faculties at Dundee and Glasgow Universities and at the Open University. She was formerly the Legal Advisory Officer for, and is now a member of, the Scottish Consumer Council, which nominated her for the Health and Safety Commission.


Mr Abdul Chowdry JP.
Appointment commenced on 1 April 1999. He gained more than 34 years experience as a Health, Safety and Environment Advisor at Turner and Newall PLC (manufacturing), where he worked until August 1998. He is the Director of Blackburn/Darwen Racial Equality Council. He has been a magistrate since 1976. He was a Labour Councillor at Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council from 1972 to 1998, where he chaired a number of committees including Housing, Policy and Economic Development. He was also a member of the Greater Manchester Police Authority from 1986 to 1998.


Cllr Joyce Edmond-Smith.
Appointment commenced on 1 April 1997. She has been a councillor for 13 years and is a member of Brighton and Hove Council. She has been a member of the Association of District Councils for eight years and has a wide experience of environmental and health issues in local government. Over the past ten years she has chaired the Brighton Environment and Planning Committee and the Environment and Health Committee of the Association of District Councils. She has been a member of Brighton and Hove Community Health Council and is presently a member of the 'Local Agenda 21' Steering Committee. She taught in Further Education for 20 years.


Judith Donovan CBE.
Appointed 1 October 2000. A Yorkshire businesswoman who founded her own direct marketing company in 1982, was Chairman of Bradford TEC from 1989-97, and the first female President of Bradford Chamber of Commerce from 1992-2001. She is currently a director of Business Link West Yorkshire and the Northern Ballet Theatre, Patron of Bradford Samaritans and member of the Programme Monitoring Committee for Objective 2 Funding for Yorkshire and the Humber. She is also a Millennium Commissioner and Chairman of Postwatch for the North of England.


Judith Hackitt
Trained as a Chemical Engineer at Imperial College, London. She has been Director of Business and Responsible Care at the Chemical Industries Association (CIA) since 1998 and was appointed Director General of the CIA from 1 April 2002. Judith was previously employed as Group Risk Manager at Elementis PLC with world-wide responsibility for health and safety insurance and litigation. She also served for three years as a non-executive Director of Oxfordshire Health Authority. She holds no other Ministerial appointments nor is engaged in any political activity.


Maureen Rooney.
Appointment commenced on 1 October 2000. She is a National Women's Officer for the Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union and is a Member of the Executive Council of the Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions. She was nominated for the Health and Safety Commission by the Trade Union Congress and has served on the TUC's General Council since 1990 and the Executive Council since 1998. She is a former Vice-President of the National Childminder's Association and was on the Board of Management for the Adult Literacy and Basic Skills Unit. She was also on the Council of Management for the Merchant Navy Welfare Board. She has undertaken a range of political activities for the Labour Party including speaking and canvassing on behalf of the party and is a member of the NEC Women's Committee. She holds no other Ministerial public appointment


John Longworth.
Group Trading Law and Technical Director of Tesco PLC. He is currently accountable for Corporate Policy on Regulatory, Consumer and Scientific Affairs and for product quality and operating standards, including environment, safety and operational risk management. John has been in Commerce and Industry for almost twenty years and for the whole of this period he has been involved with UK and European Government. He is currently a member of several British Retail Consortium Policy Committees, Chairs the Institute of Grocery Distribution Director’s Technical Forum and sits on the Governments’ Advisory Committee on Packaging Waste and Recycling. He is not engaged in any political activity.


Mr Owen Tudor.
Appointment commenced on 17 November 1998. He is a Senior Policy Officer at the TUC responsible for prevention, rehabilitation and compensation. He was a member of the HSC Advisory Committee on Toxic Substances and Occupational Health Advisory Committee's occupational health services sub-group. He is a member of the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council and is a member of the Civil Justice Council. He is a trustee of the Royal National Institute for Deaf People and developed the first social partnership between the TUC and a small firms organisation, the Forum of Private Business. He is married and has a young son.


Annexes to "Framework of Accountabilities
Annex 1-4 .This contains
  1. Responsibilities of Secretaries of State in Relation to work of HSC/E
  2. Agency Agreements and Memoranda of Understanding
  3. Advisory Committees to the Health and Safety Commission.
  4. Letter from HSC to HSE giving formal direction Under Section 11(4) of 1974 Act

Annex 5: Financial Memorandum


The Commission: accountable to, and controlled by, the Government

Section 11(3) of the 1974 Act states that:
It should be the duty of the Commission -

(a) to submit to the Secretary of State from time to time particulars of what it proposes to do for the purpose of performing its functions; and
(b) subject to the following paragraph, to ensure that its activities are in accordance with the proposals by the Secretary of State
(c) to give effect to the any directions given to it by the Secretary of State
Section 12 states that, the Secretary of State may …-
(ii) approve, with or without modifications any proposals submitted to him in pursuance of section 11(3)(a);
(iii) give to the Commission at any time such directions as he thinks fit with respect to its functions (including directions modifying its functions, but not directions conferring on it functions other than any of which it was deprived by previous directions given by virtue of this paragraph), and any directions which it appears to him requisite or expedient to give in the interests of the safety of the State.

Directive from HSC to HSE in 1976

M Seale Esq
Secretary to the HSE
Regina House
259 Marylebone Road

25 November 1976

Dear Mr Searle

At their meeting on the 20 July 1976, the Commission decided to give a directive to the Executive under section 11(4) (a) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. This directive was communicated to the Executive by circulating the minutes of the meeting to the Director General and members of the Management Board. I think, however, that the directive should be formally communicated to the Executive and I should be grateful if you would formally acknowledge that the Executive had received it.

The text of the directive is as follows:

The commission directs the Executive to do all that is necessary on its behalf in relation to section 11(1) and (2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 to:
(i) prepare proposals for the decision of the Commission:
(ii) make recommendations to the Commission from time to time;
(iii) carry out the Commission Decisions.
The Commission further directs the Executive to take on behalf of the Commission such steps as are necessary to maintain the Employment Medical Advisory Service, including the appointment of Employment Medical Advisors under section 56 of the Health and Safety At Work Act 1974

Yours sincerely
V G Monks
Secretary to the Commission


HSC Committees

Subject Advisory Committees

Advisory Committee on Dangerous Pathogens
Advisory Committee on Dangerous Substances
Advisory Committee on Genetic Modification
Advisory Committee on Toxic Substances
Ionising Radiations Advisory Committee
Advisory Committee on the Safety of Nuclear Installations
Occupational Health Advisory Committee

Industry Advisory Committees

Adventure Activities Industry Advisory Committee
Agricultural Industry Advisory Committee
Ceramics Industry Advisory Committee
Construction Industry Advisory Committee
Deep Mined Coal Industry Advisory Committee
Foundries Industry Advisory Committee
Health Services Industry Advisory Committee
Higher and Further Education Advisory Committee
Offshore Industry Advisory Committee
Paper and Board Industry Advisory Committee
Printing Industry Advisory Committee
Railways Industry Advisory Committee
Rubber Industry Advisory Committee
Schools Education Advisory Committee
Textiles Industry Advisory Committee

Home -> Research & Briefings -> Government and Regulatory Bodies
Page last updated on June 9, 2003