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What is the role of the HSE?

If you’re working the trades, you no doubt know just how important health and safety is. But do you know who the HSE are and how they enforce regulations? If not, don’t worry, we’ve broken down everything you need to know about the role of the HSE in this guide.

The role of the HSE in workplace health and safety

Whether you’re an apprentice or an experienced worker, you probably know more than your fair share about health and safety. After all, it’s an integral part of any business.

Not only does it protect and save lives, but it ensures that future workplace disasters can be avoided.

But that doesn’t mean it can’t be a confusing set of regulations to follow. And unless you stay constantly up to date, you might miss any new legislation from the HSE.

This is the last thing you want, as failure to comply with HSE regulations could have serious consequences.

So, to help make sure you and your business stay HSE compliant, we’ve created this quick HSE guide.

We’ll cover what the role of the HSE, various HSE roles and responsibilities, and their inspection process. Helping you and your business to be prepared to meet your workplace’s needs.

What does HSE stand for?

HSE stands for the Health and Safety Executive. They’re a UK government agency that operates under the Department of Work and Pensions.

Founded on the principles and laws set out in the 1974 Health and Safety Act, they enforce UK workplace safety.

In other words, with health and safety in the workplace, the rules you follow are set out by the HSE. Any breach of them means that the HSE is well within their rights to act on those failures.

What is the role of the HSE?

When it comes to what the HSE does, there are many areas that they dip their toes into.

On a broad level, their job is to promote, regulate, and enforce workplace safety. This in turn is designed to prevent deaths, illness, and injury to those working.

They govern health and safety in all UK industries, with the goal to protect people and create safer workspaces.

As a result, the HSE will send teams out to investigate any and all businesses, as well as industrial accidents.

What this means in turn is that HSE inspectors can call on your place of work to carry out inspections. These can be unprompted and very in-depth with regard to examination and standards setting.

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Common HSE duties and responsibilities

While inspections are a common part of the HSE’s role, their duties can be quite far-reaching.

Below is a list of the most important HSE duties and responsibilities that they carry out:

  • Helping people and businesses to implement health and safety measures based on government-mandated, HSE regulations
  • Organising and researching health and safety best practices
  • Publishing information on workplace health and safety
  • Delivering training and information on health and safety to the public and businesses
  • Advising the government and their employees on how to properly disseminate health and safety information
  • Proposing new regulations in response to increased awareness of workplace risks
  • Handling licensing issues
  • Inspecting and investigating businesses
  • Enforcing the law when health and safety breaches are found

How does the role of the HSE work with trades?

With the basics covered, you might be wondering what the role of the HSE is with regard to tradespeople.

Well, as you may have guessed, this involves seeing that you meet the government’s mandated health and safety requirements.

Regardless of your trade, HSE inspectors will expect you to adhere to all of the following criteria:

  • Adherence to the HSE inspection process when required
  • Organising or facilitating HSE inspections when prompted
  • Spreading the necessary advice and guidance to their workforce
  • Enforcing any actions raised by the HSE to meet health and safety guidelines
  • Reporting any and all accidents that occur in your work in a precise manner

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What does an HSE inspection involve?

Due to the varying nature of the trade industry, HSE inspections will vary from business to business.

As a plumber and electrician, they may focus on the quality of your work and how safe your installations are. Whereas, for builders, they’ll almost certainly want to examine the state of your worksite.

However, no matter what your job is, the majority of HSE inspections will include the following steps:

  • An analysis of your risk assessment policies, including how up-to-date they are and whether or not employees have easy access to them
  • Noting how well-kept and thorough your business records are
  • Checking for how well obvious risks are controlled and accounted for
  • Performing building walkthroughs and examinations
  • Consulting employees for their opinion on their place of work
  • Ensuring that the necessary health and safety facilities are provided by your workplace
  • Assessing the education level of your staff in regard to their health and safety knowledge
  • Ensuring that correct health and safety signage is placed throughout the business
  • Facilitating the correct enforcement of HSE regulations

Once an HSE team has finished their inspection, they’ll then notify you of any areas in breach of protocol.

You’ll then be expected to attend to these issues in a given timeframe or face penalty charges.

Are HSE regulations mandatory?

Yes! No matter your business or industry, you’re legally obliged to adhere to HSE regulations at all times.

The role of the HSE is to enforce regulations. Failure to meet them in a timely manner will result in either a fine or prosecution. And in serious breaches, you could see your business permanently closed.

Stay HSE compliant with Checkatrade

That was just a broad outline of what the HSE do, and what you can expect when working with them.

Of course, if you want to stay HSE compliant at all times, then you might want to consider joining Checkatrade.

Here at Checkatrade, we vet all of our clients to ensure that they meet our rigorous standards. Not only that, but we’ll alert you to new industry updates so you can stay in the loop.

Get in touch today to see how we can help your business to stay compliant. You can also read our blogs on scaffolding safety, site security, and first aid requirements, for more help.

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We've helped millions of people find reputable tradespeople in their area

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HSE FAQs

When does the HSE carry out inspections?

While you may be informed of an upcoming HSE inspection in a timely manner, this isn’t always the case.

The HSE has the power to conduct surprise inspections with minimal notice. This is why your health and safety should always be up to the expected standards.

What happens if my business fails an HSE inspection?

Failure to meet certain HSE criteria will have different consequences. For example, small breaches may only come with a small fine or warning, and nothing at all if fixed swiftly.

However, bigger failings will likely result in larger fines, industry disqualification, and potential business closure.

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