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Response from the Health and Safety Commission & Health &Safety Executive

HSE InfoLine : 15 July, 2004  (Company News)
The Secretary of State for Transport announced today moves to transfer responsibility for railway safety regulation from HSC/E to the new Office of Rail Regulation.
The Secretary of State for Transport announced today moves to transfer responsibility for railway safety regulation from HSC/E to the new Office of Rail Regulation.

HSC Chair Bill Callaghan said:
'The Commission is naturally disappointed at this decision. Both HSC and HSE have presented robust arguments, factually based with supporting evidence, to DfT during the Review. It is our firm belief that safety regulation should be independent of its industry and that any regulator should have teeth to be able to enforce measures where necessary.

'However, I have assured the Secretary of State that we will do everything we can to make this transition from HSC/E to ORR work smoothly. The Commission will continue its work to ensure that standards of safety for rail workers and passengers alike are maintained. We are pleased that the Government has clearly indicated that the proposed changes will not see any reduction in levels of railway safety and that the Health and Safety at Work Act will continue to apply. I welcome the assurances from the Secretary of State and his support for HSC/E's work.

'The Commission appreciates the outstanding contribution made to railway safety by all HSE rail staff; both in the day to day oversight of safety by HM Railway Inspectorate and the rail policy work to take forward the recommendations made by Lord Cullen following the Ladbroke Grove Inquiry.

HSE Director General Timothy Walker said:
'I share the Commission's disappointment in this outcome. I too am grateful for the work of all my colleagues engaged in railway safety. During its time in HSE, HM Railway Inspectorate's oversight of the rail industry's management of health, safety and welfare has seen an overall improvement in safety indicators despite recent serious incidents. Our rail policy advisers have been dedicated to the task of reviewing and revising railway safety legislation and guidance in the light of recommendations made following these incidents, and measures from Europe to modernise the rail regulatory framework. HSE rail staff have set high standards of professionalism and should be proud of what they have achieved within HSE.

'I echo the commitment to ensure that safety standards are maintained. HSE will work closely with DfT and the ORR to ensure a smooth handover of responsibilities; I know that my rail colleagues are capable of meeting this challenge. For my part, I am committed to ensuring that HSE will manage this change effectively and secure comparable terms and conditions for staff who transfer to ORR.'

Until the transfer HSC/E will retain their statutory responsibilities in respect of the regulation of railway safety as set out in the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

A recent exchange of correspondence between the HSC Chair and the Secretary of State is attached at Annexes 1 and 2.
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