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From the Secretary's desk

23 January 2013

It is clear that the recently published report ‘Common Sense, Common Safety' from Lord Young will have a significant effect if it is fully implemented.

It is clear that the recently published report 'Common Sense, Common Safety' from Lord Young will have a significant effect if it is fully implemented.

Although this year's HSE statistics confirm that Britain has the lowest rate of fatal occupational injuries in Europe and one of the lowest levels of work-related ill health, there is little doubt that a more sensible approach to safety and health across society as a whole would be beneficial. Indeed, any progress on limiting the excessive reactions of business managers to the pressures created by a combination of over-the-top media coverage and excessively cautious insurers must be of huge benefit to employers, safety managers and workers.

As part of a busy programme over the next few months, the BSIF is working with other stakeholders and the HSE to develop a new national register of occupational safety consultants. As a promoter of this initiative some years ago, the BSIF is keen to ensure that the speed of implementation does not dilute the integrity of a scheme designed to provide industry with a tangible "competence" yard-stick when recruiting advice and guidance from safety consultants.

Whether it is fortuitous or the timing is by design, the BSIF also welcomes the recent proposal to revise the National Occupational Standards for safety and health. The hope is that good sense will prevail in setting out a clear definition of competence and the necessary evidence requirements within these NOSs which, to date, have been deliberately omitted to avoid any "people accreditation" conflicts with knowledge and understanding qualifications.

Another matter that has come into focus recently is the ridiculous application of devolution to regulations designed to protect people at work or the environment. The HSE has UKwide responsibilities and there is one set of regulations albeit that enforcement is sometimes delegated to local authorities.

The complications which result from a different approach through DEFRA in respect of the oil storage regulations is indefensible - devolution could be achieved through enforcement rather than through the actual drafting of different regulations. Does anyone really believe that maintenance of the safety of people at work or protection of the environment is any different in England to that applicable within Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales?

The BSIF continues, through its members, to take an active role in the development and revision of standards. There are an increasing number of challenges to the integrity of existing standards and with the likelihood that the initial draft of the new PPE Directive will be available during 2011, there is considerable motivation to resolve these issues as speedily as possible.

The BSIF wishes all its friends and colleagues within the safety industry a very happy Christmas and hopes that everyone is able to enjoy a safe and healthy 2011. If you have any comments on this or any other items within these BSIF pages, please contact us, through the Editor please.

Geoff Hooke
BSIF Secretary