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Health & Safety Review to help businesses

Published: 16/12/11

Health & Safety Review to help businesses

Most ‘ordinary’ people would support the reform of health and safety regulation and indeed this is a key area for government. Misinterpretation of health and safety regulation, coupled with a fear of civil court decisions and easy access to litigation have contributed to what we increasingly recognise as the ‘compensation culture’. This can be a major issue for some small businesses, as well as charities, schools, clubs and the like, who are all keen to run socially beneficial activities.

Following on from Lord Young’s Common Sense, Common Safety report, the Department of Work & Pensions commissioned Professor Ragnar Löfstedt, director of King’s Centre for Risk Management at King’s College, London to carry out an independent review of current health and safety regulation, focusing on the impact of health and safety rules on UK businesses.

Reclaiming health and safety for all: An independent review of health and safety legislation

Professor Löfstedt’s findings were reported on 28 November; the Government has accepted his recommendations and will begin an immediate consultation on the abolition of large numbers of health and safety regulations and intends to have removed the first rules from the statute book within a few months.

At the start of 2012 a new challenge panel will be established, allowing businesses to get the decisions of health and safety inspectors overturned immediately if they have got it wrong.

The Löfstedt Review Reclaiming health and safety for all: An independent review of health and safety legislation recommends health and safety law "should not apply to self-employed people whose work activity poses no potential risk of harm to others". The changes if implemented would benefit around a million self-employed people.

Health and safety regulations will be reduced by a third rising to over a half over the next three years, through combining, simplifying and reducing the approximately 200 existing regulations.

The role of the Health and Safety Executive in relation to local authorities will be significantly strengthened. And the report makes recommendations to ensure that employers are not held responsible for damages when they have done all they can to manage risks.

With 50% of health and safety regulation coming from Europe the Professor will present his findings, along with the minister, in Brussels this week to promote a more proportionate, risk-based approach.

Minister for employment Chris Grayling said: "From the beginning we said getting the regulation of health and safety right is important to everyone. By accepting the recommendations of Professor Löfstedt we are putting common sense back at the heart of health and safety. Our reforms will root out needless bureaucracy and be a significant boost to the million self employed people who will be moved out of health and safety regulation altogether.

"We will also ensure our reforms put an emphasis on personal responsibility. It cannot be right that employers are responsible for damages when they have done all they can to manage the risk. Fundamentally we will ensure the health and safety system is fit for purpose through streamlining the maze of regulations and ensuring consistency across the board."

Löfstedt said: "When the Minister invited me to conduct this review I was determined that it should be science-based, evidence-based and risk-based. My guiding principle is that regulation should also be founded on robust evidence and an assessment of the real risks. All the discussions I had and the evidence I have received over the past few months have served to reinforce this view."

It will be interesting to see over the next year what practical effects the report has on health and safety within the work place. In terms of insurance it is still imperative to have correct and written procedures in place including appropriate risk assessments. Speak to your Flint account handler for help and advice.


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