HSE Annual Science Review 2023

We are pleased to share that our Associate Member, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), has published its eighth Annual Science Review. The Annual Science Review 2023 will focus on the HSE’s activities which aim to enable the safe deployment of net zero energy technologies. 

Enabling the safe deployment of net zero energy technologies

This year, the Review has been produced using a unique mix of specialist skills and large-scale testing facilities, that has helped to provide information on preventing failure at industrial operating conditions. Utilising a range of applications that were researched by industry specialists, also allows cross-sector learning. This Review aims to help support the public assurance of safety for these new technologies through knowledge sharing.

Last year, experts in forensic incident investigation at the Science and Research Centre in Buxton worked on several high-hazard events, including; the Kinghorn Beach scuba diving incident; the Hammersmith Town Hall steelwork construction incident; the Gatwick Airport Station construction incident; the  Oakwood Theme Park ride incidents and the Thornton Heath gas explosion incident. The Review will address tragedies where people were injured or lost their lives, like those above, and show how science and evidence continues to be deployed to ensure the safety of people and their surroundings.

We have given a particular focus on our activities aimed at enabling industry to innovate safely to prevent major incidents, supporting the move towards net zero. The internationally renowned expertise which our scientists and engineers have developed over the last 20 years is critical in understanding and effectively controlling the risks associated with hydrogen as an important fuel ‘vector’ to store and transport renewable energy. They have worked with innovators and regulators to develop the evidence needed, much of which is generated at our Science and Research Centre in Buxton.

Protecting people and places

Through extensive scientific work, the HSE is forging ahead to deliver the evidence to enable safe deployment of net zero technologies, in order to meet the UK’s decarbonisation objectives. HSE has dedicated two decades of work on hydrogen, alongside more recent work in areas, like batteries and carbon capture and storage, which enables the safe deployment of innovative net zero technologies. Since the HSE took on the role of Building Safety Regulator and responsibility for the country’s chemical safety regime, it is evident that their scientific work is at the centre of securing and growing the trust of the UK, ensuring  satey at home, at work and in the environment. 

Four case studies illustrating how the work of the HSE’s forensic incident investigation specialists identified causes and helped secure justice. The case studies included in the Review, cover the range of science and engineering work that HSE have delivered and demonstrates how they use science and evidence to protect people and places including:

  • Enable industry to innovate safely to prevent major incidents: supporting the move towards net zero
    • Enabling the safe introduction of offshore carbon capture and storage
    • Enabling safe deployment of lithium-ion batteries for storage/use of net zero energy
    • Developing the evidence to underpin the safety of hydrogen vehicles in tunnels
    • Supporting the safe introduction of liquefied hydrogen fuel for net zero flights
  • Reduce work-related ill health
    • Protecting workers from ill health caused by noise and vibration
    • The PROTECT COVID-19 National Core Study
  • Increase and maintain trust to ensure people feel safe where they live, where they work and in their environment
    • Authorisation of first UK application of a pesticide using a drone
  • Maintain Great Britain’s record as one of the safest countries to work in
    • Scientific support to serious incidents

This review highlights the ways in which our scientists set the bar for tackling both new and ongoing risks, underpinning our strategic objectives. For example, their evidence is used to support the national agenda on decarbonisation, reduce health and safety risks in workplaces, and inform the wider remit of HSE in regulating chemicals to safeguard people and the environment.

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