The governance of Health & Safety and subsequent guidance on how to best comply with the legislation is changing in the UK. In short the process is being simplified somewhat and (arguably) it’s a good move for small businesses…
Whether the changes are born out of a genuine desire to simplify the process or just another part of the government austerity measures remains to be seen. (See previous post Safety Cuts: a step too far? )
However, the Government confirmed changes this week by launching their new Health & Safety framework whereby; agriculture, quarries and health & social care are now to be excluded from proactive HSE inspections, despite acknowledgement that they remain comparatively high-risk sectors. The Safety minister Chris Grayling said…
“Of course, it is right to protect employees in the workplace, but Britain’s health and safety culture is also stifling business and holding back economic growth. The purpose of health and safety regulation is to protect people at work, and rightly so. But we need common sense at the heart of the system, and these measures will help root out the needless burden of bureaucracy.”
Among a number of sweeping reforms of the health and safety regime in Britain, the DWP has approved plans for proactive inspections to fall by a third – around 11,000 inspections a year. This will undoubtedly have an impact on safety in those business areas, especially if employers adopt a couldn’t care less attitude born out of the belief; “I’m likely to get inspected”.
Many of the changes result from Common Sense, Common Safety; the report by Lord Young of Graffham to the Prime Minister following a Whitehall-wide review of the operation of health and safety laws and the growth of the compensation culture. Although the report was received with mixed feelings by those in and outside of the profession, there was in my humble opinion a great deal of sensible content.
That said, Health & Safety is an important aspect of our working life however, compliance doesn’t have to be too onerous or complicated. It does however need to be implemented correctly. Often it’s not knowing where or how to start the process that leaves you open to abuse by some shall we say, less scrupulous and money orientated so-called ‘consultants’ or ‘advisors’…
To further ease the burden of health and safety regulation on small businesses and low-risk organisations, a new online guidance package has also been launched. Called ‘Health and safety made simple’, the single piece of guidance takes SMEs through their basic health and safety duties, describing what they need to do and how they should do it. The guidance covers:
- appointing a competent health and safety advisor;
- writing a health and safety policy;
- completing risk assessments;
- consulting with employees;
- providing adequate levels of training and welfare facilities; and
- obtaining employers’ liability compulsory insurance.
Contrary to popular belief, the legislation isn’t complicated for the SME and, it does not require you to employ someone like me however, getting someone to help you with a task, especially if it’s one you don’t happen to be particularly well versed in, can prove to be beneficial. If I can’t help, which is hopefully unlikely, I’m sure I can put you in touch with someone who can. 🙂
- Budget 2011: Hampering health and safety laws to be swept away (telegraph.co.uk)
- Coalition Government to Deliver on HSE Reform Promises (first4lawyers.com)
- Budget 2011: Government slashes health and safety red tape and puts an end to ‘cowboy regulators’ (telegraph.co.uk)
- Health and Safety cuts: Criminal businesses let off the leash (leftfootforward.org)
- Safety Cuts: a step too far? (bankbabble.wordpress.com)