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Reactions to Lord Young's report
23 January 2013
Initial reactions to the findings of Lord Young's review into the operation of health & safety laws and the growing compensation culture have on the whole been positive. Some leading stakeholders in the health & safety market offer HSM their views
Engineering Employers Federation (EEF): A victory for common sense over vested interests
EEF, the manufacturers' organisation has welcomed the report on health and safety by Lord Young and urged it to build an alliance in Europe to stem the flow of new Health & Safety legislation. Commenting, EEF head of health & safety, Steve Pointer, said:
â€œManufacturers will welcome this report. Practical action to protect employees from harm is important but, health and safety has become too focussed on completing paperwork and protecting the public from every possible risk. Much of this is driven not by regulation, but by compensation claims, poorly-qualified consultants and over-reactions by some local authorities.
"Lord Young has listened and responded to concerns about introducing statutory licensing of advisors & consultants which would have imposed unnecessary costs on lower risk businesses.
â€œThe much tougher voluntary accreditation system is a victory for common sense over vested interests. It is now essential that government delivers on these recommendations, implements the reforms rapidly and builds an alliance in Europe to stem the flow of new Health & Safety Regulation.â€
International Institute of Risk and Safety Management (IIRSM) :
A return to a common sense approach to safety Brian Nimick, Chief Executive of IIRSM welcomed the report saying: â€œThe return to proportionality and the emphasis on common sense and personal responsibility embodied in the report are welcomed by IIRSM. The move away from a climate of compensation to one of prevention can only benefit the working lives of everyone. The UK can rightly be proud of its record of the lowest number of non-fatal accidents and the second lowest number of fatal accidents at work in Europe, but the fact remains that too many people still die as the result of work related accident and illness and any initiative which will impact on this must be welcomed.
â€œIn particular IIRSM welcomes Lord Young's commitment to raising standards in the health and safety profession and is pleased to be a vital part of the discussions to make this possible through the creation of a voluntary register for health and safety consultants.
Membership of OSCR will be available to Fellow members of IIRSM, which is accessible to our members after five consecutive years at full member level in the Health and Safety Practitioner Stream, recognising their expertise and knowledge within the health and safety industry.â€
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA):
Government must seize this silver bullet moment Tom Mullarkey, RoSPA's chief executive, comments: â€œWe welcome the opportunity provided by Lord Young's review to open debate into how accident prevention can contribute to the wellbeing of the nation and reduce costs.
There is a great opportunity here for the Government to come up with something progressive and positive - this is a rare silver bullet moment with the opportunity to save lives, reduce injuries and cut costs. As we have said many times, good health and safety is good for everyone.
Roger Bibbings, RoSPA's occupational safety adviser, said: â€œEven before Lord Young's review, and without Government prompting, we took initiatives which showed the way in cutting red tape, for example, by eliminating repeat prequalification health and safety assessments of contractors required by clients. RoSPA has stressed the need to get the health and safety balance right, taking the right precautions and focusing on the highest risks.
â€œBut we must also avoid oversimplifying health and safety by classifying businesses as either 'low hazard' or 'high hazard'. With work-related injury and ill health causing nearly 30 million lost working days annually we need to focus on the main issues but without ignoring the real risks that people face even in 'low hazard' workplaces. Even seemingly low hazard settings, such as offices, can have significant hazards associated with them.
For example, a mainly office-based worker who drives 25,000 miles a year runs the same risk of being killed as a construction worker.
British Safety Council (BSC): Lord Young's recommendations â€œa breath of fresh airâ€
The British Safety Council's chief executive Julie Nerney has applauded Lord Young for restoring common sense and credibility to health and safety and sweeping away the stealth and safety killjoys who ban everything from running pancake races in the rain to 'noisy' charity cycle rides.
â€œLord Young with the backing of the prime minister has delivered a powerful toolbox of recommendations that will reestablish credibility to our enviable health and safety laws while sweeping away ludicrously misguided local regulations and needless red tape,â€ she said.
â€œThe stealth and safety busybodies who hid in bushes to monitor noise levels of charity cycle rides, ordered pancake race runners to walk because it had been raining or banned the sale of pencil sharpeners to the under 18s will be no more. These foolish decisions have nothing to do with regulatory framework but everything to do with misguided interpretation of it. We will do everything we can to protect a framework which has done so much to raise standards and is the envy of other nations .
â€œLord Young has been bold and decisive in his recommendations and we will work with him and his team, with businesses, schools and others to restore credibility and effectiveness to our health and safety laws while promoting sensible safety and best practice - without the burden of needless bureaucracy and poor advice.
â€œOur businesses, schools, communities, police and others have been short-changed by low quality guidance, unqualified consultation and risk-averse jobsworths. Lord Young's recommendations are a breath of fresh air.
The TUC: Young Review a grave disappointment
The TUC has expressed disappointment at the outcome of Lord Young's review of health and safety.
Commenting on the report, TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: â€œThe review's recommendations are predictable but a grave disappointment all the same. â€œThe report contains not a single proposal that will reduce the high levels of workplace death, injuries and illness.
â€œYet instead of looking for ways of preventing people being killed and injured, the report uncritically accepts the myths and preconceptions surrounding health and safety, and focuses on dealing with a compensation culture which the Government accepts does not exist.
â€œHealth and safety is not a throwback to a previous century, or an issue that only affects heavy industry. It is just as much an issue for offices and shops - workplaces that Lord Young dismisses as â€œlow riskâ€, despite the evidence of high levels of workrelated ill-health in these sectors.
â€œThis report is a missed opportunity to improve the UK's workplace safety record and by failing to challenge the myths around health and safety it could actually make things much worse.â€
The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH): Lord Young got the balance right
The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) broadly welcomed Lord Young's report.
Commenting on the report, Stephen Battersby, CIEH President, said: â€œThe CIEH agrees with Lord Young when he calls for a common sense and proportionate approach to health and safety. The CIEH believes that all people need to be protected at work and responsible businesses should be able to operate without unnecessary burdens.
â€œWe share the report's concern at the recent growth in activities by the legal profession to encourage litigation in the event of accidents; this has clearly prompted organisations to become more risk averse.
â€œLord Young seeks to get that balance right, but it will be important to examine the ways to achieve this carefully. While specific sectors may appear to present low hazard workplaces there are many examples of â€œhidden hazardsâ€ for example this might include violence to staff, which is problematic in certain parts of the retail sector.
The CIEH also welcomed the launch of the OSCR register which it played a key part in developing.
In addition Stephen notes: â€œThe report refers to the RIDDOR reporting system, which allows action to be taken to prevent further incidents and to hold businesses to account where necessary and provides intelligence to focus future activity. While there may be good reason to review the reporting mechanism any changes should be risk based. We would not want to see a situation wherein businesses might become less careful about accidents.â€
Croner: Cowboy consultants crack down welcomed but consolidation of legislation could lead to further problems
The UK provider of workplace information, software and services, Croner has welcomed Lord Young's report.
Nasar Farooq, Safety Technical Manager at Croner, comments: â€œLord Young has correctly identified the need to free UK SMEs from unnecessary bureaucratic burdens and to regain an attitude of common sense around health and safety legislation.â€
However, Farooq does have concerns over some of Lord Young's recommendations: â€œThe suggestion that all health and safety legislation should be consolidated into a single set of regulations sounds helpful at first but there is a real risk that it will lead to further confusion and over-cautious interpretation. The current guidelines apply to different types of risk in various working environments and to consolidate these the Government may be forced to generalise to such an extent that SMEs will be even more confused about how to comply.
â€œIn addition, the recommendation that RIDDOR reports should mirror the new Fit Note Scheme, by which employees need to be absent from work for seven days (it was three) before a report to the HSE is filed, will ease the administrative burden on businesses but may also lead to inaccurate health and safety statistics.â€
Faraqoo adds that Croner is particularly supportive of Lord Young's calls to crack down on 'cowboy' health and safety professionals and improve the
quality of advice given to organisations, especially small and medium sized firm.