Shake up for Health and Safety laws
April 19, 2011barriehol
Whatever your politics you have to applaud the statement by Chancellor George Osborne in his 2011 Budget announcement that the Coalition is to adopt in full the recommendations of Lord Young calling for a rethink on our risk averse Health and Safety culture.
Businesses can look forward to some major changes ahead hopefully to reset the ground rules for Health and Safety legislation to reduce the sheer volume of compliance measures that has become such a burden for employers. In a parallel move leading risk management specialist Professor Ragnar E Löfstedt (no kidding) has been appointed to review our complex and bureaucratic health and safety laws with a view to scrapping any “unnecessary” measures. He has a big job to do.
Lord Young’s report Common Sense, Common Safety published in October last year concluded that the current H & S legislation was a magnet for disreputable claims management firms and Safety consultants and has contributed to the creation of a wholly disproportionate compensation culture and , he might add, it is costing business a small fortune into the bargain.
If the recommendations go ahead thousands of shops, offices and factories will escape automatic health and safety checks in a series of reforms to reduce unnecessary red tape and no doubt accommodate the 35% of cuts in government funding earmarked for the Health & Safety Executive. It may be churlish to link the two as I fully support the H & S review irrespective of the rights and (some) wrongs of this Governments deficit reduction program.
Apparently automatic health and safety inspections will no longer take place, with the HSE encouraged to focus its attention on high risk industries and dodgy employers who want only to put their employees and the public at risk. How you can identify these rogue employers without an inspection is somewhat mystifying but this nevertheless is expected to cut the number of inspections in the UK by up to one third.
Employers should not anticipate any slackening of the aggressive prosecution of the Regulatory Reform (Fire safety) Order as this falls under a different authority. I would also predict that the onus for risk management and avoidance will fall further on the “responsible” employer and consequently require increased liability insurance.
The reforms will also include the development of a new online reference to be called “Health and Safety Made Simple” to help small and low risk employers – whatever they are – to access all the health and safety information that they require in one place. When it comes to fire and workplace safety and legal compliance look no further than the advice pages of this website and our library of Risk Assessment and Health and Safety business management tools.