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Rail departs HSC/E

HSE InfoLine : 31 March, 2006  (Company News)
The responsibility for railway health and safety regulation is transferring from the Health and Safety Commission and Executive to the Office of Rail Regulation on 1 April 2006.
The responsibility for railway health and safety regulation is transferring from the Health and Safety Commission and Executive to the Office of Rail Regulation on 1 April 2006.

Lord Hunt, Minister for health and safety, said:
'The challenge for this new rail safety regulator will be not only continuing to work with industry in driving down injuries on the railway network, but also to tackle the incidence of occupational ill health in the rail industry. ORR now has an important contribution to make in improving the health, safety and welfare of rail workers and the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 provides the perfect framework with which to do this.

'And new government initiatives such as Health, Work and Well-being will help sharpen the focus on to health issues arising from rail workplace activities, so we will not lose sight of this important and - as recent events have shown, often vulnerable group of workers.

'Finally, I would like to thank all those involved in HSE rail for their hard work.'

Commenting on the transfer, Bill Callaghan, HSC Chair said:
'All HSE rail staff can look with pride on their achievements. Passengers are safer and so are those who work on the railway.

'As the health and safety baton is passed to ORR, I am confident that it is inheriting a strong and independent rail regulator. ORR is taking on a well-resourced inspectorate; when HM Railway Inspectorate moved to HSE in 1990 there were 27 inspectors. There are now over 117 inspector posts in HMRI. This is a reflection of the importance that HSC has placed on improving railway health and safety.

'ORR is also inheriting a modern regulatory and enforcement framework from HSC, and its tradition of engaging with all interested parties in the rail sector, employers, workers and their representatives, and passenger groups.

'At the close of the Rail Review, when it was clear that rail safety would be transferred from HSC, I wrote to the Secretary of State to seek certain assurances and I was delighted when Alistair Darling agreed to these. These assurances are the best guarantee of health and safety on the railways, protecting both passengers and staff. We should remember that although HSC loses statutory responsibility for railway health and safety, health and safety performance on the railway will still contribute to HSC's overall targets for improvement. HSC and ORR are committed to working together closely to achieve our objectives.'

Geoffrey Podger, HSE Chief Executive, said:
'While I am sorry to see colleagues in HMRI and rail policy staff leave HSE, they do so in the knowledge that the improvement in health and safety on Britain's railways is due in no small part to their efforts. ORR is inheriting a first class team who will continue the good work, and we shall look forward to working together in the future.'
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