OSH system at national level - United Kingdom
Aditya Jain, Nottingham University Business School, and Stavroula Leka, Centre for Organizational Health and Development, University of Nottingham
- 1 Occupational safety and health legislative framework
- 2 National strategy and programmes
- 3 Social dialogue
- 4 Occupational safety and health infrastructure
- 4.1 Occupational safety and health infrastructure scheme
- 4.2 National competent bodies
- 4.3 Education and training and awareness raising
- 4.4 Specialized technical, medical and scientific institutions
- 5 Institutions and organisations
- 6 References
- 7 Links for future reading
Occupational safety and health legislative framework
Occupational safety and health regulation in the United Kingdom has a long history which goes back to the early 19th century. One of the first pieces of Health and Safety legislation in the United Kingdom ‘the Health and Morals of Apprentices Act’ was introduced in 1802 by Sir Robert Peel targeted at workers employed in cotton mills and other factories . In the 150 years that followed, a large number of laws were enacted to ensure the safety, health and wellbeing of workers. By the late 1960’s however, it became clear that several of these laws were largely ineffective as the number of accidents within the workplace were not falling. In early 1970’s the UK government commissioned the Robens’ Committee on Safety and Health at Work to review the existing health and safety legislation. The recommendations from the Robens’ report formed the basis for the current OSH legislative framework . The current UK OSH legislative framework came into being with the Health and Safety at Work etc Act (HSW Act) in 1974 . At the time the Act came into force there were some 30 statutes and 500 sets of regulations .
The core of the UK’s regulatory framework for health and safety is contained in the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (with further significant modifications in 2008) and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations . The Health and Safety at Work Act sets out the general duties that employers and the self-employed have towards employees and members of the public, and employees have to themselves and to each other. The Act provides a unified institutional structure and legal framework for health and safety regulation and has proved to be both robust and enduring . It is based on the principle that those who create risks to employees or others in the course of carrying out work activities are responsible for controlling those risks. The Act places specific responsibilities on employers, the self-employed, employees, designers, manufacturers, importers and suppliers. The Act and associated legislation also place duties in certain circumstances on others, including landlords, licensees and those in control of work activities, equipment or premises. Under the main provisions of the Act, employers have legal responsibilities in respect of the health and safety of their employees and other people who may be affected by their undertaking and exposed to risks as a result. Employees are required to take reasonable care for the health and safety of themselves and others .
The framework Council Directive 89/391/EEC of 12 June 1989  on the introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health of workers at work is primarily implemented in Britain by the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 , which established broad obligations for employers to evaluate, avoid and reduce workplace risks. The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations make more explicit what employers are required to do to manage health and safety, including the requirement to carry out a risk assessment in their workplaces.
The focus of the legislative framework in the UK is on what needs to be achieved rather than how it must be done. Business obligations under the current regulatory regime are expressed as goals or targets which are to be met ‘so far as is reasonably practicable’, or through exercising ‘adequate control’ or taking ‘appropriate’ (or ‘reasonable’) steps . Qualifications such as these involve making judgments as to whether existing control measures are sufficient and, if not, what else should be done to eliminate or reduce the risk . This judgment is considered to be an essential part of the risk assessment process and is informed by approved codes of practice (ACOPs), published standards and guidance on good practice (by the government or social partners) where available. ACOPs have a special status in law and failure to comply with the provisions of an ACOP may be taken by a court in criminal proceedings as evidence of a failure to comply with the requirements of the Act or of regulations to which the ACOP relates. ACOPs provide flexibility to cope with innovation and technological change without a lowering of standards .
The Health and Safety Executive's (HSE) website provides lists of legislation owned and enforced by HSE / Local Authorities including amending regulations (for up to date legislation) and legislation relating to specific industries.
Some important pieces of health and safety legislation include:
- Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 
- Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 
- Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH) 2002 
- Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations 1996 
- Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 
- Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 
- Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 
- Health and Safety Information for Employees Regulations 1989 
- Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981 
- Employers’ Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969 
- Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) 1995 
- Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977 
National strategy and programmes
The current national occupational safety and health strategy in the UK titled 'Helping Great Britain work well' has been published in 2016. The strategy was mainly developed by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in collaboration with the Minister for Disabled People (covering HSE). It follows the 'Health and Safety Strategy for Great Britain - Be Part of the Solution' published in 2009.
The key message of the former 2009 strategy 'Health and Safety Strategy for Great Britain - Be Part of the Solution' was that everyone has a role to play in improving the country’s health and safety performance. The strategy was evolutionary rather than revolutionary and aimed to recapture the underlying principle of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act (1974): that those who create the risks are responsible for managing them. The strategy aimed at resetting the direction for health and safety while continuing to provide the overall strategic framework for maintaining and improving UK’s workplace health and safety performance. The strategy emphasised the need for stakeholder involvement at all levels, particularly in its implementation and monitoring. It emphasised that the principles of corporate and personal responsibility lie at the heart of how health and safety law is applied and managed .
A number of strategic goals were set out in the 2009 strategy to achieve four clear objectives for the health and safety of Great Britain:
- to reduce the number of work-related fatalities, injuries and cases of ill health;
- to gain widespread commitment and recognition of what real health and safety is about;
- to motivate all those in the health and safety system as to how they can contribute to an improved health and safety performance;
- to ensure that those who fail in their health and safety duties are held to account.
The new five year plan aims to engage organisations, individuals and companies to share knowledge and expertise to work towards developing an improved health and safety awareness across the nation.
The new strategy covers six main themes:
- Acting together: Promoting broader ownership of workplace health and safety.
- Tackling ill health: Highlighting and tackling the burden of work-related ill-health.
- Managing risk well: Enabling productivity through proportionate risk management, simplifying risk management.
- Supporting small employers: Giving SMEs simple advice that can help them manage their health and safety responsibilities.
- Keeping pace with change: Anticipating and tackling the challenges of new technology and ways of working.
- Sharing the benefits of Great Britain’s approach: Promoting the benefits of Great Britain’s world-class health and safety system.
At national level
As compared with other European countries and the European approach to social dialogue specifically, the UK has a varied institutional framework to support social dialogue  which provide a fora through which participation by the social partners in policy making might take place . Some examples include the Low Pay Commission and the Women and Work Commission .
Social dialogue between employer representatives and worker representatives plays a role in shaping policies relating to occupational safety and health in the UK  where stakeholder consultations and impact assessments have increasingly become essential parts of the policy making process . The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), in preparing policy proposals, consults extensively with organisations representing professional interests in health and safety, business managers, trade unions, and scientific and technological experts. This is managed through a network of advisory committees and by public invitation to comment on particular proposals . HSE regulates in England, Wales and Scotland, while, in Northern Ireland workplace health and safety is regulated by the Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland (HSENI).
Furthermore, the social partners are represented in the HSE governing Board which comprises of up to 12 non-executive directors. Members of the Board are appointed by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions after consultation with organisations representing employers, employees, local authorities and others, as appropriate. The tripartite board is responsible for establishing and delivering HSE’s strategic aims and objectives consistent with its overall strategic direction and within the policy and resources framework determined by the Secretary of State .
The key national social partners in the UK are:
Trade Union Congress (TUC) : The TUC is central trade union confederation in the UK and the largest organisation representing employees. The TUC is a member of ETUC and campaigns for a fair deal at work and for social justice for employees both in the UK and in Europe. The vast majority of the UK’s trade union members belong to the 58 unions affiliated to the TUC.
Confederation of British Industry (CBI) : The CBI is the UK's premier business lobbying organisation, providing a voice for employers at a national and international level. The CBI represents its members on a wide range of business related issues including industrial relations and occupational safety and health. CBI is a member of BUSINESSEUROPE and its mission is to promote the conditions in which businesses of all sizes and sectors in the UK can compete and prosper for the benefit of all.
Other national social partners include:
- Partnership of Public Employers (PPE) : representing public service employers (known as CEEP UK until 2008)
- Institute of Directors (IOD) : professional membership organisation representing business leaders
- Federation of Small Business (FSB) : representing self-employed and owners of small firms
At sectoral level
The Health and Safety Executive receive specialist advice from a range of advisory committees, boards and councils. These bodies may be concerned with health and safety in a particular industry or sector, or with particular hazards that may be present across a range of industry sectors. The Committees are serviced by HSE to help achieve the outcomes in its strategic plan. The Committees may recommend standards and guidance and, in some cases, comment on policy issues confronting the HSE or recommend an approach to a particular new problem. Each committee includes a balance of people nominated by employer and employee organisations and, where appropriate, public interest representatives and technological and professional experts . The key committees include:
- Advisory Committee on Dangerous Pathogens
- Advisory Committee on Toxic Substances (ACTS)
- Agricultural Industry Advisory Committee (AIAC)
- Asbestos Liaison Group
- Cement, Ceramics, Concrete, Heavy Clay, Refractories and Glass Manufacturing Industries Joint Health and Safety Committee (C3HARGE)
- Castings Health and Safety Advisory Committee (CHASAC)(formerly Foundries Industry Advisory Committee FIAC)
- Chemical and Downstream Oil Industries Forum (CDOIF)
- Construction Industry Advisory Committee (CONIAC)
- Health and Safety Executive / Local Authority Enforcement Liaison Committee (HELA)
- Interdepartmental Liaison Group on Risk Assessment (ILGRA)
- Legionella Committee
- Mining Industry Safety Leadership Group (MISLG)
- Mining Qualifications Board (MQB)
- Motor Vehicle Repair (MVR) Forum
- National Liaison Committee overseeing the Protocol of Work-related deaths
- Offshore Industry Advisory Committee (OIAC) (formerly Oil Industry Advisory Committee)
- Paper and Board Industry Advisory Committee (PABIAC)
- Quarries National Joint Advisory Committee
- Safety and Health in Mines Research Advisory Board (SHMRAB)Scientific Advisory Committee on Genetically Modified Organisms (Contained Use)
- Small Business Trade Association Forum (SBTAF)
- Textiles Industry Advisory Committee (TEXIAC)
- Tyre and Rubber Industries Advisory Group (TRISAG) (formerly Rubber Industry Advisory Committee RUBIAC)
- Wood Safety Group
At enterprise level
A clear legal framework to ensure social dialogue at the enterprise level is well established in the UK. The Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977  and the Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations 1996  set out how employees must be consulted in different situations and the different choices employers have to make.
According to the regulations, the employers must consult with employees or their representatives on the following:
- the introduction of any measure which may substantially affect their health and safety at work;
- arrangements for getting competent people to help them comply with health and safety laws;
- the information they must give their employees on the risks and dangers arising from their work, measures to reduce or get rid of these risks and what employees should do if they are exposed to a risk;
- the planning and organisation of health and safety training; and
- the health and safety consequences of introducing new technology .
Occupational safety and health infrastructure
Occupational safety and health infrastructure scheme
Figure 1: The OSH infrastructure in the UK on an implementation level
National competent bodies
The HSW Act and related legislation are primarily enforced by the HSE or local authorities, according to the main activity carried out at individual work premises. The Health and Safety (Enforcing Authority) Regulations 1998 allocate the enforcement of health and safety legislation at different premises between local authorities and HSE .
Health and Safety Executive
Under the HSW Act, the HSE has been set up in order to support the Government’s strategic aims and current targets for health and safety at work. Its main aim is to secure the health, safety and welfare of people at work and protect others from risks to health and safety from work activity. Its mission is to prevent death, injury and ill health to those at work and those affected by work activities.
According to the Act, the main statutory duties of the HSE are to propose and set necessary standards for health and safety performance; secure compliance with those standards; carry out research and publish the results and provide an information and advisory service and provide a Minister of the Crown on request with information and expert advice.
To perform these duties the HSE seeks to influence people and organisations – duty holders and stakeholders – to embrace high standards of health and safety; promote the benefits of employers and workers working together to manage health and safety sensibly and investigate incidents, enquire into citizens’ complaints and enforce the law.
HSE is the primary delivery agent for the UK government’s Department for Work and Pension’s strategic objective of improving health and safety outcomes. The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions has the principal responsibility for the HSE . Certain areas of risk or harm directly or indirectly related to work activity are covered by legislation other than the HSW Act and are not dealt with by HSE. These include disability discrimination, consumer and food safety, fire safety, marine, railway, and aviation safety and most aspects of environmental protection  .
Local authorities enforce health and safety law mainly in the distribution, retail, office, leisure and catering sectors. HSE liaises closely with local authorities on enforcement matters through the HSE/Local Authorities Enforcement Liaison Committee (HELA). Partnership teams (comprising HSE and local authority staff) and an enforcement liaison officer network in HSE regional offices across Britain also provide advice and support. HELA provides a strategic oversight of the partnership aiming to maximise its effectiveness in improving health and safety outcomes – including enforcement priorities for local authorities. A Local Government Panel, comprising local authority councillors, was also established in 2006 and regularly meets the HSE Board for a strategic dialogue on local, central and devolved government issues that impact on health and safety regulatory functions. It also reviews the effectiveness and performance of the partnership between the two enforcing authorities .
Occupational safety and health services
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 require employers to appoint ‘one or more competent persons' to help them to meet their duty to control risks at work. Many employers can get or develop this help in-house which they are required to use when it is available or seek external help or advice if in-house help is inadequate, or use combination of both. There are a number of different sources of external advice available to employers. These include:
- trade associations
- safety groups
- trade unions
- consultants registered on the Occupational Safety and Health Consultants Register
- local councils
- health and safety training providers
- health and safety equipment suppliers
The legislative framework in the UK requires employers to provide relevant health and safety training to their employees including additional training for health and safety representatives and thereby develop in-house capacity to deal with health and safety issues. When internal OSH services cannot adequately deal with an issue, employers can seek external advice. Employers are advised by the HSE to select external help carefully . Both providers of health and safety services (both internal and external) should be able help employers to manage risk sensibly, i.e., focussing on reducing real risks, both those which arise more often and those with serious consequences. As the provider they must be competent, give a good quality service and deliver help that is ‘fit for purpose’.
Competency relates to knowledge, skills and experience of the service provider . While, according to the HSE , service that is ‘Fit for purpose’ means that the advice provided by health and safety service must be:
- Right: based on a correct assessment of the risk; and taking account of any established standards and good practice
- Tailored: directed at the actual circumstances found in the workplace under consideration; based on the service provider’s knowledge and experience of the particular industry, process etc.; and tapping into the knowledge and experience of both the management and workers at the particular workplace.
- Sensible: concentrating on practical action to control significant risks; not over responding to trivial risks; not pursuing paperwork as an end in itself; and looking to control measures that are reasonably practicable.
Compensation and insurance bodies
Under the provisions of the Employers’ Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969, most employers are required to insure against liability for injury or disease to their employees arising out of their employment. The Act ensures that employers have at least a minimum level of insurance cover to cover the cost of compensation for employee injuries or illness whether they are caused on or off site (with certain exclusions).
Under the law, employers are required to use an authorised insurer. Authorised insurers are individuals or companies working under the terms of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000. The Financial Services Authority (FSA) maintains a register of authorised insurers. Employers must be insured for at least £5 million. However, the amount of insurance cover depends on risks and liabilities specific to the business/organisation. In practice, most insurers offer cover of at least £10 million. When a policy is taken out or renewed, the insurer provides a certificate of employers’ liability insurance. This must state clearly the minimum level of cover provided and the companies covered by the policy. The employer must display a copy of the certificate of insurance where their employees can easily read it.
The HSE enforces the law on employers’ liability insurance and HSE inspectors can check that an employer has employers’ liability insurance with an approved insurer for at least £5 million. The inspectors may also ask to see the certificate of insurance and other insurance details. If an employer does not have suitable insurance they can be fined up to £2500 for any day which they are without insurance. If the certificate of insurance is not display or not made available to HSE inspectors if requested, the employer can be fined up to £1000 .
Other occupational safety and health bodies
There are a number of OSH professional bodies actively engaged in promoting the field of health and safety in the UK and beyond. The key bodies include:
Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH): Founded in 1945, IOSH, a registered charity, is the biggest health and safety membership organisation in the world. With more than 40,000 individual members internationally, they are the biggest professional health and safety organisation in the world. IOSH is committed to creating ‘A world of work which is safe, healthy and sustainable’ and aims to maintain high standards throughout the OSH profession. IOSH works with a range of organisations (national and international) to raise awareness – and standards, developing training for schools and businesses, and running campaigns that are relevant to millions of working people. IOSH is one of the world's leaders in health and safety training .
British Safety Council (BSC): Founded in 1957, the British Safety Council is now one of the largest independent occupational health, safety and environmental organisations in the world. As a registered charity, the BSC have a proud tradition of campaigning on health, safety and environmental issues. The BSC works with businesses to improve their health, safety and environmental management. They campaign and influence, and are champions of young worker safety. The BSC vision is that no one should be killed, injured or made ill by their work .
Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA): With a history dating back to 1916, ROSPA’s mission is to save lives and reduce injuries. RoSPA is committed to preventing accidents, all the while seeking to strike the right balance between prescription and individual choice. It promotes safety and the prevention of accidents at work, at leisure, on the road, in the home and through safety education. Their activities include campaigning, collecting data, carrying out research, developing policies, informing and educating, auditing and providing expert consultancy .
International Institute of Risk and Safety Management (IIRSM): IIRSM, established in 1975, is a professional membership body that provides recognition, information, support and enhancement for health and safety professionals and specialist members related to the health and safety field. It was created to advance professional standards in accident prevention and occupational health throughout the world. Over the last three decades IIRSM has grown from a collective group of UK health and safety professionals to a thriving International Institute spanning over 70 countries. Its main objective is to advance public education in accident prevention and occupational health in industry. To achieve this, the Institute promotes research into accident prevention and occupational health and publishes the results, encourages individuals to adopt health and safety best practice and help prevent accidents, advises anyone entering the health and safety field to undertake training and obtain professional qualifications and exchanges information with equivalent bodies throughout the world .
British Safety Industry Federation (BSIF): BSIF, set up in 1994, is the UK's leading trade body within the safety industry. BSIF have over 160 members including manufacturers, distributors, test houses, certification bodies, safety professionals and service providers. Their aim is to provide support and guidance on a wide range of occupational safety issues. It aims at helping to both influence legislation and provide industry in general with a source of authoritative information on a range of workplace safety issues, while representing the needs of its members. BSIF is the lead association for the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Directive and is recognised as a Competent Authority by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE). The BSIF has active links with many government departments and over 130 representative Trade Bodies .
Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH): CIEH is a registered charity and the professional voice for environmental health. Its history can be traced back to the 1840s. The CIEH sets standards, accredits courses and qualifications for the education of members and other environmental health practitioners. It provides over 50 certification training programmes which include food safety, health and safety, environmental awareness through a network of over 10,000 registered trainers and 6,000 registered training centres across the UK. It also provides information, evidence and policy advice to local and national government and environmental and public health practitioners in the public and private sectors. As an awarding body, the CIEH provides qualifications, events, and support materials on topics relevant to health, wellbeing and safety to develop workplace skills and best practice .
Society of Occupational Medicine (SOM): SOM is an organisation in the United Kingdom for all health professionals working in occupational health (OH) or with an interest in it. A registered charity, the SOM was originally founded in 1935 as the Association of Industrial Medical Officers, and renamed as the Society of Occupational Medicine in 1965. The Society opened its membership in 2012 to all occupational health professionals. The SOM aims to promote the protection of people’s health at work, prevent occupational injuries and disease and focus on related environmental matters. It also encourages interest and research in the OH field. The SOM works closely with the government, the healthcare community, health charities and other institutions to promote a more healthy workforce. Membership is open to all health professionals with an interest in OH from the UK and internationally.
Education and training and awareness raising
Legally required training for occupational safety and health specialists
Under the provisions of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 ‘every employer has a duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees, including the provision of information, instruction, training and supervision’ .This is expanded by the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, which identify situations where health and safety training is particularly important. The regulation states that Health and safety training must be provided to newly recruited employees; to those who may be exposed to new or increased risks because of a transfer or change of responsibility, new work equipment or a change to existing equipment, new technology, new system of work or change to the existing system; and that training must be repeated periodically as appropriate and adapted to take account of new or changed risks to health and safety and takes place during working hours .
A number of laws which relate to specific health hazards (e.g. asbestos, lead, noise, vibration etc.), safety hazards (e.g. working at heights, heavy machinery/equipment etc.) specific sectors (e.g. construction, mining etc.) also lay down provisions for additional training that may be required by employees (including managers/owners) when working in these contexts. There are also particular laws, which include specific provision of training, relating to the protection of young people at work and the functions and training of health and safety representatives. The Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977 and the Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations 1996 require that employers to provide or arrange for appropriate training for in-house occupational safety and health specialists functioning as health and safety representatives either appointed by trade unions or elected by employees.
According to the regulations, employers must give appointed health and safety representatives the paid time necessary to carry out their functions, and paid time as is necessary to undergo training in those functions, as is reasonable in the circumstances. The Trade Union Congress  or the trade union concerned will offer training to trade union health and safety representatives and usually meet the costs. Trade unions offer online training courses, so health and safety representatives may not always have to leave the workplace, but may simply require access to online training within the workplace and time to complete the course.
In the case of elected representatives, employers must ensure that elected representatives receive the training they need to carry out their roles, as is reasonable in the circumstances, and pay any reasonable costs to do with that training, including travel and subsistence costs, give them paid time necessary to carry out their functions; and allow candidates reasonable time with pay to carry out their functions as a candidate in an election .
Competent help is fundamental to manage risks sensibly and is an explicit requirement under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations. Being competent is recognised as having:
- relevant knowledge, skills and experience;
- the ability to apply these appropriately, while recognising the limits of your competence; and
- the necessary training to help you acquire and maintain this.
The Regulations do not outline how service providers achieve competence, nor do they specify the relevant set of skills or qualifications. Rather, they set these competency criteria as a goal for occupational safety and health service providers (internal and external) to achieve, as what will be considered competent will depend on the context and particular help being provided. How a service provider (internal or external) achieves competence is up to their discretion. Being a member (at the appropriate level) of a professional body which sets competence standards for its members, and prescribes levels of qualification and schemes of continuing professional development, is one way health and safety service providers undertake voluntary training and achieve competence .
The HSE and a network of professional bodies and stakeholders worked in partnership to develop the Occupational Safety and Health Consultants Register (OSHCR). OSHCR provides an up-to-date list of general health and safety advisers who have a qualification recognised by the professional bodies participating in the scheme. Together, this partnership has agreed that a minimum standard should be set for consultants to join the register. The minimum standard currently has been set at a degree level qualification, at least two years’ experience and active engagement in a continuing professional development scheme. All consultants who join the register are bound by their relevant professional code of conduct and are committed to providing sensible and proportionate advice. Employers seeking general external health and safety advice can search the register for a consultant by industry, topic, county or keyword .
Other vocational training
In the UK, vocational training is provided by a number of organisations such as the Health and Safety Laboratory (HSL), the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), the British Psychological Society (BPS), the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), the Royal Society for Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), the British Safety Council (BSC), UK trade unions and employer associations. The training is relevant for managers, supervisors and staff from all types of organisations responsible for health and safety. Some examples include qualifications awarded by the National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health (NEBOSH) and the British Safety Council.
The NEBOSH National General Certificate is the most widely held health and safety qualification in the UK. The course is intended for those who need a broad understanding of health and safety issues. The certificate helps them manage risks effectively by providing an overview and a sound basis for further professional study. Many people take the NEBOSH National General Certificate as a first step in a career in health and safety and may go on to take the diploma. The NEBOSH National Diploma is the qualification for aspiring health and safety professionals, building directly upon the foundation of knowledge provided by the NEBOSH National General Certificate. It is designed to provide trainees with the expertise required to undertake a career as a safety and health practitioner and also provides a sound basis for progression to postgraduate study .
The BSC offers the International Certificate in Occupational Safety and Health (BSC CertOSH or ICertOSH) and the International Diploma in Occupational Safety and Health (BSC DipOSH/ IDipOSH). The courses are recognised by employers as the professional standard for managers with responsibility for aspects of health and safety in the workplace. The certificate course is intended for those who need a broad understanding of health and safety issues . The Diploma covers all aspects of occupational health and safety law and practice, and places emphasis on ill-health prevention. It also focuses on embedding health and safety into an organisation's culture and highlights the key role of communication in winning workforce 'hearts and minds' and securing senior management commitment. The BSC CertOSH and DipOSH is for delegates from UK companies, while the ICertOSH and IDipOSH course is for delegates from overseas. The syllabus is similar for both courses and includes a section on Safeguarding People’s Health in the Workplace .
Awareness raising networks
All professional bodies such as IOSH, BSC, RoSPA, IIRSM, BSIF, CIEH, also play a key role as awareness raising networks. Additionally, there are other relevant networks which are active in raising awareness in the area of occupational safety and health. For example: Business in the Community (BITC).: BITC is a business-led charity focused on promoting responsible business practice. It stands for responsible business and has a membership of over 850 companies and a further 10,700 companies engaged in their campaigns globally. The members of BITC help to transform communities by tackling key social and environmental issues. They run an innovative programme to raise awareness about employee health and wellbeing - the BITC Workwell Campaign. BITC Workwell is a coalition of businesses committed to improving levels of understanding of the role of workplace wellness. In this campaign organisations engage with the business case, review their wellness approach and commit to public reporting of health and safety aspects within their organisations .
Specialized technical, medical and scientific institutions
The Faculty of Occupational Medicine (FOM) is a charity committed to improving health at work. It is the professional and educational body for occupational medicine in the UK and seeks to ensure the highest standards in the practice of occupational medicine. As such, it seeks to ensure the highest standards in the practice of occupational medicine. FOM members work in partnership with other occupational health bodies to promote health and work in many ways. The organisation was established in 1978 as a faculty of the Royal College of Physicians but is now an independently constituted body with its own governance, membership and finances. Their aim is for healthy working lives through:
- maximising people’s opportunities to benefit from healthy and rewarding work while not putting themselves or others at unreasonable risk
- elimination of preventable injury and illness caused or aggravated by work
- access for everyone to advice from a competent occupational physician as part of comprehensive occupational health and safety services
- providing support to the Faculty’s membership to raise the standard of occupational health practice .
Institute of Ergonomics & Human Factors (IEHF)(previously known as the Ergonomics Society) is an international organisation whose main aim is to promote public awareness of ergonomics and its applications and to provide educational material for students and teachers. It is the only professional Institute in the UK dedicated solely to ergonomists and human factors specialists .
British Psychological Society is the representative body for psychology and psychologists in the UK. The society is responsible for the development, promotion and application of psychology for the public good. The Division of Occupational Health with the society has an interest group dedicated to issues such as mental health and wellbeing .
The HSE sources its scientific and engineering expertise from various groups: academia, external contractors, its Health and Safety Laboratory (HSL) and its own staff . Therefore it is not surprising that a wide range of institutions in the UK are engaged in research in occupational safety and health issues. These can be classified as government research institutes/centres, non-profit research centres, research centres in the university sector and private research centres/consultancies.
HSL, the national institute for occupational safety and health research, was originally set up to minimise risks to people's health and safety at work as HSE's laboratory. Today, while continuing to support HSE, HSL now works with a wide range of other public and private-sector organisations, often conducting detailed, bespoke research and development work on their behalf . HSL’s primary roles are to provide investigative work and services arising from HSE’s day-to-day operation, which often require a rapid multidisciplinary response. HSE maintains a dedicated horizon-scanning team based at HSL to keep the health and safety consequences arising from new trends in science and technology under review . HSL is also a WHO Collaborating Centre in Occupational Health.
Other key research institutes are:
- Institute of Occupational Medicine (IOM) a WHO Collaborating Centre in Occupational Health .
- Cardiff Work Environment Research Centre (CWERC ) .
- Centre of Organisational Health & Development (COHD) a WHO Collaborating Centre in Occupational Health (formerly Institute of Work, Health and Organisations) .
- Institute of Occupational & Environmental Medicine (IOEM) .
- Work and Health Research Centre (WHRC) .
- Institute for Employment Studies (IES) .
- The Work Foundation .
- The Tavistock Institute .
The British Standards Institution (BSI) is national organization responsible for the development and publication of standards in UK. BSI is a semi-governmental institution with juridical responsibility. Since its foundation in 1901 as the world’s first standardisation body, BSI has grown into a leading global independent business services organization providing standard-based solutions in more than 140 countries. The BSI develops private, National and International Standards, certifies management systems and products, provides assessment, certification, and testing of products and services, and provides training and information on standards and international trade . BSI developed the first used standard on occupational health and safety management system BS 8800 which went on to become the OHSAS 18000 series standards – the most widely used OSH standard globally . The BSI also developed the first guidance standard on psychosocial risk management in the workplace – PAS1010 .
The National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health (NEBOSH) was formed in 1979 as an independent examining board and awarding (certification) body with charitable status. It offers a comprehensive range of globally-recognised, vocationally-related qualifications designed to meet the health, safety, environmental and risk management needs of all places of work in both the private and public sectors. Courses leading to NEBOSH qualifications attract around 35,000 candidates annually and are offered by over 500 course providers, with exams taken in over 100 countries around the world. Their qualifications are recognised by the relevant professional membership bodies such as IOSH and IRRSM. NEBOSH examinations and assessments are set by its professionally qualified staff assisted by external examiners; most of whom are Chartered Safety and Health Practitioners operating within industry, the public sector or in enforcement.
Institutions and organisations
Table 2: Main OSH institutions and organisations in the UK
|Key social partners in the UK OSH field|
|Government OSH authorities and inspection services|
|Professional organisation of OSH services||
|Key compensation and insurance bodies||
|Key research institutes||
|Key professional associations||
|Key standardisation body||
Source: Overview by the authors
- Callaghan, B. (2007). The Annual ACAS and University of Warwick Lecture in memory of Sir Pat Lowry - Delivered by Bill Callaghan, Chair, Health and Safety Commission. Retrieved 18 June 2012, from: http://www.hse.gov.uk/aboutus/speeches/pdfs/lowry.pdf
- Browne, R.C., ‘Safety and health at work: The Robens Report’, British Journal of Industrial Medicine, Vol. 30, No 1, 1973, pp. 87–91.
- Health and Safety at Work etc Act (HSW Act) 1974. Available at: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1974/37/contents
- HSE – Health and Safety Executive, A guide to health and safety regulation in Great Britain, 2009. Available at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/web42.pdf
- Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, Improving outcomes from health and safety A Report to Government by the Better Regulation Executive, 2009. Available at: http://www.bis.gov.uk/files/file47324.pdf
- Council Directive 89/391/EEC of 12 June 1989 on the Introduction of Measures to Encourage Improvements in the Safety and Health of Workers at Work. Available at: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:31989L0391:en:HTML
- Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. Available at: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1999/3242/contents/made
- Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH) 2002. Available at: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2002/2677/contents/made
- Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations 1996. Available at: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1996/1513/contents/made
- Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992. Available at: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1992/3004/contents/made
- Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992. Available at: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1992/2966/contents/made
- Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. Available at: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1998/2306/contents/made
- Health and Safety Information for Employees Regulations 1989. Available at: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1989/682/contents/made
- Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981. Available at: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1981/917/contents/made
- Employers’ Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969. Available at: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1969/57/contents
- Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) 1995. Available at: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1995/3163/contents/made
- Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977. Available at: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1977/500/made
- Helping Great Britain work well 2016, A new health and safety system strategy. Available at: 
- Helping Great Britain work well. Strategy homepage (2016). Retrieved 16 June 2016, from:
- HSE – Health and Safety Executive (2010). The Health and Safety of Great Britain - One year on: Being part of the solution. Retrieved 16 June 2016, from:
- Foden, D., 'The role of the social partners in the European employment strategy', Transfer: European Review of Labour and Research, Vol. 5, No 4, 1999, pp. 522–541.
- Heyes, J., ‘The Changing Role of Labour Ministries: Influencing Labour, Employment and Social Policy’, InFocus Programme on Social Dialogue, Labour Law and Labour Administration, International Labour Office, 2004, Paper no 6.
- Broughton, A. (2008). Working conditions and social dialogue – UK. European Foundation for the improvement of living and working conditions. Retrieved 18 June 2012, from: http://www.eurofound.europa.eu/comparative/tn0710019s/uk0710019q.htm
- HSE – Health and Safety Executive (2011). Impact assessments. Retrieved 18 June 2012, from: http://www.hse.gov.uk/ria/index.htm
- HSE – Health and Safety Executive (2009). DWP/HSE Framework document. Retrieved 18 June 2012, from: http://www.hse.gov.uk/aboutus/howwework/management/dwphse.pdf
- TUC - Trade Union Congress (2012). Website – About the TUC. Retrieved 18 June 2012, from: http://www.tuc.org.uk/index.cfm
- CBI - Confederation of British Industry (2012). Website – About the CBI. Retrieved 18 June 2012, from: http://www.cbi.org.uk/about-the-cbi/
- PPE - Partnership of Public Employers (2012). Website – About PPE UK. Retrieved 18 June 2012, from: http://ppe.uk.com/about/
- IOD - Institute of Directors (2012). Website – About the IoD. Retrieved 18 June 2012, from: http://www.iod.com/About-the-IoD
- FSB - Federation of Small Business (2012). Website – About the FSB. Retrieved 18 June 2012, from: http://www.fsb.org.uk/about
- HSE – Health and Safety Executive (2012). Committees. Retrieved 18 June 2012, from: http://www.hse.gov.uk/aboutus/meetings/committees.htm
- HSE – Health and Safety Executive, Consulting employees on health and safety - A brief guide to the law, 2011. Available at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg232.pdf
- HSE – Health and Safety Executive, Getting specialist help with health and safety, 2011. Available at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg420.pdf
- HSE – Health and Safety Executive (2007). HSE statement to the external providers of health and safety assistance. Retrieved 18 June 2012, from: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/externalproviders.pdf
- HSE – Health and Safety Executive, Employers’ Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969: A guide for employers, 2008. Available at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/hse40.pdf
- IOSH - Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (2012). Website – About us. Retrieved 18 June 2012, from: http://www.iosh.co.uk/about_us.aspx
- BSC - British Safety Council (2012). Website – About us. Retrieved 18 June 2012, from: https://www.britsafe.org/about
- RoSPA - Royal Society for Prevention of Accidents (2012). Retrieved 18 June 2012, from: http://www.rospa.com/about/default.aspx
- IIRSM - International Institute of Risk and Safety Management (2012). Website – About us. Retrieved 18 June 2012, from: http://www.iirsm.org/about_us
- BSIF - British Safety Industry Federation (2012). Website – About us. Retrieved 18 June 2012, from: http://www.bsif.co.uk/introduction
- CIEH - Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (2012). Website – About us. Retrieved 18 June 2012, from: http://www.cieh.org/about_us.html
- NEBOSH - National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health (2012). Qualifications - diploma. Retrieved 18 June 2012, from: http://www.nebosh.org.uk/qualifications/diploma/default.asp?cref=69&ct=2
- BSC - British Safety Council (2012). International Certificate in Occupational Safety and Health (BSC CertOSH or ICertOSH). Retrieved 18 June 2012, from: https://www.britsafe.org/training-qualifications/qualifications/qualifications-individuals
- BSC - British Safety Council (2012). International Diploma in Occupational Safety and Health (BSC DipOSH/ IDipOSH). Retrieved 18 June 2012, from: https://www.britsafe.org/training-qualifications/qualifications/bsc-level-6-diploma-occupational-safety-and-health
- BITC - Business in the Community (2012). Website – About us. Retrieved 18 June 2012, from: http://www.bitc.org.uk/about-us
- BITC - Business in the Community (2012). Business Action for Working Well. Retrieved 18 June 2012, from: http://www.bitc.org.uk/workplace/health_and_wellbeing/
- FOM - Faculty of Occupational Medicine (2012). Website – About us. Retrieved 18 June 2012, from: http://www.fom.ac.uk/about-us
- IEHF - Institute of Ergonomics & Human Factors (2012). Website – About us. Retrieved 18 June 2012, from: http://www.ergonomics.org.uk
- BPS - British Psychological Society (2012). Website – What we do. Retrieved 18 June 2012, from: http://www.bps.org.uk/about-us/what-we-do
- HSL - Health and Safety Laboratory (2012). Website – About HSL. Retrieved 18 June 2012, from: http://www.hsl.gov.uk/about-hsl.aspx
- IOM - Institute of Occupational Medicine (2012). Website – IOM Evolution. Retrieved 18 June 2012, from: http://www.iom-world.org/solutions/
- CWERC - Cardiff Work Environment Research Centre (2012). Website – Homepage. Retrieved 18 June 2012, from: http://www.cf.ac.uk/cwerc/index.html
- COHD - Centre of Organisational Health & Development (2012). Website – Homepage. Retrieved 18 June 2012, from: http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/iwho/research/groups/cohd.aspx
- IOEM - Institute of Occupational & Environmental Medicine (2012). Website – Homepage. Retrieved 18 June 2012, from: http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/schools/haps/departments/ioem/index.aspx
- WHRC - Work and Health Research Centre (2012). Website – homepage. Retrieved 18 June 2012, from: http://www.lboro.ac.uk/departments/ssehs/research/behavioural-medicine/work-health/index.html
- IES - Institute for Employment Studies (2012). Website – An overview of IES. Retrieved 18 June 2012, from: http://www.employment-studies.co.uk/ies/index.php
- The Work Foundation (2012). Website – About the Work Foundation. Retrieved 18 June 2012, from: http://www.theworkfoundation.com/
- The Tavistock Institute Retrieved (2007). Website – About us. 18 June 2012, from: http://www.tavinstitute.org/about/
- BSI – British Standards Institution (2012). Website – About BSI Group. Retrieved 18 June 2012, from: http://www.bsigroup.co.uk/en/About-BSI/
- BSI – British Standards Institution (2012). BS OHSAS 18001 Occupational Health and Safety. Retrieved 18 June 2012, from: http://www.bsigroup.com/en/Assessment-and-certification-services/management-systems/Standards-and-Schemes/BSOHSAS-18001/
- BSI – British Standards Institution, Publicly Available Specification (PAS 1010): Guidance on the management of psychosocial risks in the workplace, British Standards Institution, London, 2011.
Links for future reading
HSE – Health and Safety Executive. Website – Homepage. Available at: http://www.hse.gov.uk
IOSH - Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (2012). Website – Homepage. Available at: http://www.iosh.co.uk