Oil Fire: Health & Safety reports

Today’s article in the Daily Telegraph ‘Firemen battle on amid blast fears’ contained an interesting point:

“It emerged that the Health and Safety Executive had served an
improvement notice on one of the operators of the Buncefield oil depot, near Hemel Hempstead, four years ago amid concerns about the containment of an aviation fuel tank.”

This raises the question: why aren’t all such Health & Safety inspection reports and notices proactively published under Freedom of Information? Journalists and activists have concentrated their requests on food hygiene inspections, but now that these are being disclosed it’s time to move on to other reports that are still secret.

The Health & Safety Executive has a good reputation for openness. They provide a searchable online prosecutions database that includes details of all prosecution cases (which resulted in a conviction) and Crown censures since 1 April 1999. A Notices Database is also available online that includes details of all enforcement notices issued since 1 April 2001, excluding those under appeal or withdrawn. The A-Z subject index of industry research reports may prove valuable.

The HSE does not cover health and safety at offices, shops or the service sector. These are inspected by local councils who then report to the Health & Safety Commission. I do not know of any council proactively publishing these reports so the only way to get them is to file an FOIA request.

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