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Regulation and celebration
23 January 2013
Against a background of continued pressure on safety budgets for both enforcers and dutyholders, the HSE has begun implementing the LÃ¶fstedt review, made changes to proactive inspections and introduced a new charging regime.
Much of 2012 has been spent responding effectively to public consultation on all the detailed regulatory consolidation work outlined in the LÃ¶fstedt report - including changes to RIDDOR reporting requirements. Published at the end of November 2011, the report signed off UK health and safety law as 'fit for purpose' but recommended the consolidation of health and safety legislation and the simplification of guidance.
Exactly how much real impact the changes will have - particularly on businesses that still don't have safe systems in place - is still up for debate. However, Professor LÃ¶fstedt's findings and last year's Red Tape Challenge prompted the chancellor to announce plans in the Budget in March to either scrap or improve 84% of health and safety regulation - a huge increase from the â€œmore than 50%â€ the Government initally commited to in response to the LÃ¶fstedt review.
This announcement was followed in September with Government initiatives to withdraw inspections from 'lower-risk' industries from April 2013, to bring in new legislation to protect businesses from 'compensation culture' claims and to scrap or overhaul over 3,000 regulations. The plans are aimed at reducing red tape and boosting business growth but the challenge will be to ensure that a reduction in health and safety regulation does not lead to a reduction in health and safety standards.
As well as keeping on top of all these changes, health and safety practitioners are adjusting to the HSE's 'Fee for Intervention' (FFI) cost recovery scheme, which came into force on October 1st amid controversy over its implementation and how it will affect the HSEs relationship with the employers it regulates.
In the middle of it all, the London Olympic Games has been a shining light, reminding health and safety practitioners of what they are here for. Hailed as the safest Games in history with no fatalities during its construction, the Olympics' build project demonstrated how health and safety is fundamental to a project's success.
As Lawrence Waterman, head of health and safety with the Olympic Delivery Authority, said at Health and Safety North in October: â€œHealth and safety was the bedrock of the programme being delivered on time and budget. It was the glue that held the contractors together, creating co-operation and camaraderie.â€
One of the legacies of the Olympics is the opportunity to raise the bar in health and safety across the UK, but the event has also helped to bring the UK economy out from recession. Experts warn of slow growth ahead, but if it gives businesses extra confidence then we may see less of a squeeze on budgets in 2013, with more resources released for managing the risks of workplace injury and work-related ill health. After all, as the Olympics has shown, investing in health and safety is simply good business sense.
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