From the CEO's desk
02 June 2014
A great deal has been written about this year, marking the 40th anniversary of the 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act and rightly so.
At the inception of the Act the level of workplace fatalities was reported at over 650 with the latest Health & Safety Executive (HSE) figures at a level of 148. While this is a significant improvement and a result of constantly improving practices we should also remember that the industrial base has changed a great deal since then.
We only have to look at the reduction in mining and shipbuilding in the UK to appreciate that many very high risk jobs no longer exist.
It should be noted that a third of the fatalities reported last year came from the self-employed and this is a group where legislation is at risk of being relaxed. During the Deregulation Bill debate at the beginning of May, the clause to remove the self- employed from the Health & Safety at Work Act took up most of the debate with many MPs arguing against its removal. The Act as it exists is straightforward in that all are included. The BSIF contends that the removal of the self-employed would only serve to confuse the issue and exclude a growing number of workers from the protection of health and safety legislation as the number of self-employed workers is twice as many as it was 20 year ago. An amendment to remove this clause was tabled but unfortunately it was rejected.
Outside of the self-employed numbers and on the 40th anniversary there is no room for any complacency whatsoever. Many key employers in the UK market now run "Zero Harm” initiatives and BSIF congratulates these employers, their programmes and their ambitions.
Safety in practice leads to safety as a habit which in turn leads to safety as a culture. This culture needs to become the norm.
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