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HSE move to Work & Pensions welcomed

CONSULTANTS THIS week welcomed the government's decision to switch the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) to the Department of Work & Pensions (DWP) as a move which would raise the profile of safety within Whitehall.

Until last week the HSE had been under the control of the deputy prime minister's office.

Before that it was part of the Department of Transport Local Government and the Regions (DTLR) until this was broken up in June (NCE 6 June).

fiThe HSE has always struggled for an identity, especially at the DTLR, where it was alongside a number of other similar sized departments, fl said Symonds health and safety director Martin Barnard.

fiIt tended to get overwhelmed by the big guns of transport, but now it will be a bigger fish in a smaller pond. fl The HSE had originally been part of the DWP's predecessor the Department of Employment until 1995. It was then transferred to the old Department of the Environment, before becoming part of the DTLR after Labour won the 1997 general election.

Statistics released earlier this month show that work related deaths dropped 9% from 292 to 249 for 2001/02. Of these 79 were construction deaths - a reduction of 25%, but still only a return to the average level of the mid 1990s.

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