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From the CEO's desk

06 May 2015

As I write this piece the country’s political landscape has changed; many seasoned campaigners have kept their seats while others begin their new careers in Westminster with the aspiration of great warriors.

Before parliament rose at the end of March the Deregulation Bill passed through for Royal Assent. The Deregulation Bill was part of the Coalition Government’s drive to free business from the burden of 'red tape'. Where the bill exercised the BSIF membership is that it sought apart from those undertaking activities on a prescribed list, to exempt the self employed from section 3 (2) of the Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974.

The BSIF’s position was clear in that the default position should have been that they would remain within the Act apart from those in specific jobs and roles. We believed that this made it clear that only those in specified occupations would be released from responsibilities. Unfortunately, the Bill passed through with only minor amendments on the basis that the self employed  would be excluded except for those in a defined list.

The Federation believes that this was the wrong orientation erroneously reducing the profile, validity and importance of Safety and Health, and that it will lead to a great deal of confusion with the starting point being that the tradesman will assume he is outside of the Act.

How ironic that recently a great deal of effort from the HSE has gone on the high profile Beware Asbestos Campaign, which HSE headlines by stating that: "asbestos is responsible for killing 20 tradespeople per week including eight joiners, six electricians and four plumbers.”

Due to the Deregulation Bill, individuals in these trades would automatically assume themselves to be outside of responsibilities under the Health and Safety at Work Act. In fairness the Bill has 'Construction' in the prescribed list but this now means that individuals such as those above would be in effect opting themselves in.

We believe the Bill creates a confusing message and in many ways it epitomises the sentiment felt by some that health and safety is a burden not a benefit. Britain should be proud to be world leaders in this field and removing a large and growing section of the workforce from the Act continues to undermine safety and health.

At this early stage of the new parliament it is not possible to comment on anything they may discuss on safety and health. We await their pronouncements with great anticipation.


Alan Murray, BSIF chief executive

Tel: 01745 585600