As the government's red tape reforms gather momentum: changes to the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) and the HSE’s Approved Codes of Practice (ACOP) are underway, and over 3,000 regulations are due to be scrapped or overhauled by December 2013, the picture for businesses is mixed....
As the government's red tape reforms gather momentum: changes to the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) and the HSE’s Approved Codes of Practice (ACOP) are underway, and over 3,000 regulations are due to be scrapped or overhauled by December 2013, the picture for businesses is mixed.
Research from the Forum of Private Businesses (FPB) suggests that while the cost of compliance for small businesses overall is still on the rise, the cost of health and safety compliance has fallen. While the FPB couldn’t shed any light on the specific sources of these savings, with the HSE’s new ‘Health and Safety Made Simple’ and ‘Health and Safety Toolbox’ online resources receiving over 700,000 visitors on the last count, it is reasonable to assume that they played a part.
But there is serious concern that the speed and vigour with which some of the reforms are being rolled out, rather than simplifying health and safety, could be leaving businesses baffled.
In his blog, Stronger Unions the TUC's senior health and safety officer Hugh Robertson suggests a worrying level of manipulation and spin is now going into undermining health and safety resulting in the promotion of inaccurate and misleading information. Hugh notes a new tendency for HSE press releases to be distributed through the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) where they are given a deregulatory slant. Referring to new guidance on work experience placements the DWP suggests that companies: "don’t need to do anything more than they would do for one of their own employees”. But this simply isn’t true according to Hugh, who explains: "Under the management regulations they have to do a specific risk assessment if they employ young people because of their lack of awareness of risk, inexperience and immaturity. ”
RoSPA’s occupational safety adviser Roger Bibbings asks whether "Deregulation = complication?” when discussing the government's draft Deregulation Bill and the decision to exempt some self-employed people from health and safety laws in the RoSPA blog safetygonesane. "Under the current system, if their work does not involve substantial risks then the action required of self-employed people is actually very little, if anything. Now in the name of deregulation, the Government is complicating things by requiring the self-employed to work out, not if there is a significant risk, but if they are inside or outside the terms of exemption.” explains Roger.
So what’s the advice for confused businesses? "Effective safety education to help people understand real risks is still the real answer, whatever size business you are.” advises RoSPA.
This issue of Health & Safety Matters features a special supplement devoted to the latest offerings and trends in health and safety training. Demand is for training which is local (Local offer -Page 62), engaging (Safety is a can do business - Page 66), targeted (Training to reduce conflict and violence Page - 68), and, essentially, clear and consistent (Programme sets standard for hydrogen sulphide training - Page 70). Government take note.