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HSE to form dedicated nuclear inspection team

The Health and Safety Executive has said it is planning to set up a dedicated nuclear inspection team to monitor how building work is carried out on putting up the series of nuclear power stations planned for the country in the coming years.

In its new business plan for 2008/09, the safety body has revealed it will look to investigate new nuclear build and increase inspections on the maintenance of ageing plant during the year to come.

But despite continued calls for an increase in construction safety inspectors, the business plan said the HSE would aim to maintain staff levels at their current figures of 134.

HSE chair Judith Hackitt said: “2008/09 will be a year of change and transition for our organisation. We will also start thinking about a new strategy.

“We have seen increased injury rates in the construction industry, a continued high rate of major injury due to slipping and tripping, and a recent increase in cases of work-related stress and musculoskeletal disorders.

“We now face a need to review our delivery strategy for the next few years. This is an important piece of work that I am keen to get right.”

She added: “With finite resources, some tough decisions are required on what we can and cannot do. To make these decisions easier, we will improve our efficiency and effectiveness, aim to recover our true regulation costs, deliver more through partnership working and reduce our overheads further.”

The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health has renewed its calls for an eventual doubling in the number of front-line inspectors after the release of the Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform’s Strategy for Sustainable Construction.

IOSH’s construction group chairman John Lacey said it would be impossible to achieve a 10 per cent reduction in major accidents and fatalities year on year without an increased funding allocation for front-line inspectors.

Despite standing firm on the inspector issue, the HSE report said money would be put into increasing its proactive activities and increasing training.

The business plan stated: “We recognise that, while we respond to failures in the workplace in a robust way, we must also be proactive and seek improvements that prevent such failures. We are working closely with other regulators, sharing information and knowledge, to improve effectiveness.”

Training measures will include the launch of a new postgraduate diploma in occupational health and safety for inspectors and specialists.

It also said that it hoped companies would use the "corporate manslaughter legislation as a spur to companies to review their health and safety performance and, in particular, the contribution of their leadership”.