The HSC says the proposed merger will bring its governance arrangements in line with best practice and strengthen the links between strategy and delivery to allow the level of accountability expected of a public body in the 21st century.
Bill Callaghan, HSC Chair, says: "Merging the Commission and Executive into a single body will give us a more robust governance framework, improve our working practices and create a stronger voice for health and safety in Great Britain. Results from our recent extensive consultation show 80 per cent support for our proposals and clearly point us in this direction.
"Over the last few years, we have made great progress in reducing work-related ill-health, and in tackling injuries and incidents at work. But there is clearly more to do. The Commission is convinced that the new governance structure we are proposing will help us to deliver the 'revitalising' targets we set, as well as better place Great Britain to meet the challenges of a 21st century workplace. In doing this we are committed to building on our independence, good relationships with stakeholders and strong sense of partnership. This is particularly true of our relationship with local authorities, which is critical to better health and safety, and we are keen to build on the undoubted improvements there have been over recent years.”
The new corporate HSE will build on the values of the HSC and HSE, these being: independent in its advice and the way it takes decisions; open and inclusive in its approach and working methods; and professional, proportionate, consistent and accountable in all it does.
Bill Callaghan is inviting Lord McKenzie of Luton, Minister for Health and Safety, to undertake consultation on detailed proposals as required by the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act 2006. The Ministerial consultation, in particular with organisations representative of those likely to be affected by the proposals, will take place before a draft Legislative Reform Order is presented to the relevant Commons and Lords committees for scrutiny.
In its consultation document the HSC detailed how it intended the new governing body to be built on the principles of independence, openness, professionalism and accountability, and that the new corporate HSE would be expected to deliver the following:
- Clarity in the roles and working relationships between the governing body, its executive arm and Ministers
- Improvement in public accountability of the governing body for strategic direction, performance and prioritisation of resources
- Improvement in the effectiveness of decision-making by drawing on a wide range of experience on all issues relevant to policy and delivery.
- The provision for better focus on organisational purpose and outcomes
- A stronger voice for health and safety by removing confusion over the different roles of HSC and HSE, resulting in the greater impact of key messages
- Consideration of key stakeholders
- Transparent decision-making and risk management
When the consultation closed on 5 March 2007, the key results were:
- 80 per cent of respondents agreed that the HSC and HSE should merge to form one unitary body
- 80 per cent of respondents agreed with the overarching principles for a new merged health and safety authority
- 69 per cent of respondents agreed that the governing body should consist entirely of non-executive directors
- 83 per cent of respondents agreed that the Governing Body should have the scope to increase in size to 11 non-executive members
- 96 per cent of respondents agreed that individual prosecution and enforcement decisions should continue to be taken by officials
- 82 per cent of respondents agreed that the merged body should be known as the Health and Safety Executive.