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From the CEO's desk
24 January 2013
On the last day of the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, Prime Minister David Cameron delivered his keynote speech. In this speech, he stated - But one of the biggest things holding people back is the shadow of health & safety.
On the last day of the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, Prime Minister David Cameron delivered his keynote speech. In this speech, he stated "But one of the biggest things holding people back is the shadow of health & safety".
While the BSIF fully supports the Government's efforts to reduce red tape on organisations, recent comments made by the Prime Minister in his Conservative conference speech portrayed health & safety as a 'shadow' " surely this cannot be right! Whilst some 'anoraks' in health & safety may go substantially too far in their conquests, condemning health & safety as a whole creates the impression of a laissez faire attitude. The latest 2010/11 figures from the HSE show that 171 workers were killed at work, up from 147 fatalities in the previous 12 months. This reported increase in fatalities illustrates the continuing need for health & safety to be taken seriously, allowing the prevention of tragic workplace accidents and injuries. This laissez faire approach could lead to a substantial increase in actual harm to workers - all of this unnecessary harm could be prevented by simple, proportionate measures that assist, not hinder businesses.
We need to reign in the very small minority of zealots and exert more common sense into our health & safety culture. Describing health & safety as a 'shadow' over business, gives the impression that it is holding back success, when often the opposite is the case. All workers have the right to expect not to be harmed or killed by their work. These are the positive, strong messages that we should be delivering to encourage common sense safety, not undermine its real successes with stereotypical negative messages. It is incomprehensible, for David Cameron PM to place health & safety rules and red tape as one of the roots of the nation's woes!
To bring about continuing improvements in the industry, changes need to be made according to the markets' needs. The current suite of health & safety legislation has been developed over many years to meet the ever changing needs of society.
While, the BSIF agrees that reducing the burden of paperwork and overzealous legislation is an excellent aim. Any possible weakening of the legislation or the omission of key sections may have unforeseen consequences and potentially diminish the importance of safety. As a Federation we strongly believe that the underlying strength of safety legislations needs to be maintained in order to protect worker's health.
The UK has long had a leading safety record worldwide and it would be a retrograde step for this position to be jeopardised. We are glad that consultations, such as the Lofstedt Review, have established what is good about the current health and safety regime and will improve upon aspects that may be overzealous or superfluous. We need David Cameron PM, to stand behind us as an industry, instead of making comments such as the above. Yes, Prime Minister you are right "œBritannia didn't rule the waves with arm-bands on" (quoted from David Cameron's speech) but isn't it time that common sense prevails and the health & safety industry is given the recognition it deserves.
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