Judith Hackitt, chair of Britains Health and Safety Executive

Great Britain Unveils New OSH Strategy

The Health and Safety Executive introduced the strategy June 3 as a way to achieve much lower injury and fatality numbers. Managers' role in training and motivating safe work will be critical in achieving the goals.

Britain's Health and Safety Executive rolled out a new occupational safety and health strategy on June 3 in a bid to bring down injury and fatality totals. The strategy isn't revolutionary, relying on two key parts of the safety equation to propel better results. Strong leadership that champions safe work and motivates workers to deliver it is one pillar of the strategy; worker involvement is the other.

"We believe this strategy represents a clear statement of core principles and a sensible approach to health and safety in Great Britain," HSE Chair Judith Hackitt said. "Whilst the economic climate is difficult and the temptation for some may be to cut corners, HSE, its partners, and businesses must resolve to continue to strive to improve health and safety performance. Good health and safety is good business."

The strategy is outlined in video and printed materials including posters and a brief strategy document. In that document is a list of 2007-08 statistics that HSE says explains why the strategy was undertaken. These include 2.1 million self-reported illness cases and 563,000 new illness cases; 2,056 deaths from mesothelioma, a cancer caused by asbestos exposure; 229 worker fatalities; 136,771 reported employee injuries and 299,000 self-reported injuries; and 34 million lost work days. Comparable U.S. statistics are far higher in most cases, with about 5,000 U.S. workers dying on the job in an average year and employee injuries estimated at approximately 4 million per year.

Hackitt said the strategy was finalized after a three-month consultation with stakeholders. "During the consultation, we spoke to many interested parties and individuals, including business leaders, industry representatives, trades unions, parliamentarians, employees; and others in the health and safety system. We wanted to hear ideas on how we could all become 'part of the solution,' " she said. "The overall feedback we received was very supportive. We listened to suggestions made during the consultation and made sensible and useful changes to our original draft, to produce the version launched [Wednesday]."

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