The Löfstedt Review into health and safety legislation, announced by Chris Grayling,ConDem Minister for Employment in March, has issued a call for evidence, inviting views by 29 July on reducing health and safety regulation.
As set out in the finalised Terms of Reference, the review will consider the opportunity for combining, simplifying or reducing the approximately 200 statutory instruments that are owned by the Health and Safety Executive, by learning lessons from health and safety regimes in other countries, and considering the extent to which regulations:
It will also consider the extent to which regulations have: impacted on positive health and safety outcomes and businesses; led to unreasonable outcomes, or inappropriate litigation and compensation; and unnecessarily enhanced the requirements of an EU directive.
Please provide your responses to the questions below. Please include any other comments or evidence that you think would be helpful in informing the review.
Once you have completed your response, please then email to the Department of Work and Pensions at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Alternatively, print out a copy and send it to: Health and Safety Review Team Department for Work and Pensions Level 2B Caxton House Tothill Street London SW1H 9NA
Please ensure your response reaches by 29 July 2011
Question 1:Are there any particular health and safety regulations (or ACoPs) that have significantly improved health and safety and should not be changed?
Question 2:Are there any particular health and safety regulations (or ACoPs) which need to be simplified?
Question 3:Are there any particular health and safety regulations (or ACoPs) which it would be helpful to merge together and why?
Question 4:Are there any particular health and safety regulations (or ACoPs) that could be abolished without any negative effect on the health and safety of individuals?
Question 5:Are there any particular health and safety regulations that have created significant additional burdens on business but that have had limited impact on health or safety?
Question 6:To what extent does the concept of ‘reasonably practicable’ help manage the burden of health and safety regulation?
Question 7:Are there any examples where health and safety regulations have led to unreasonable outcomes, or to inappropriate litigation and compensation?
Question 8:Are there any lessons that can be learned from the way other EU countries have approached the regulation of health and safety, in terms of (a) their overall approach and (b) regulating for particular risks or hazards?
Question 9:Can you provide evidence that the requirements of EU Directives have or have not been unnecessarily enhanced (‘gold-plated’) when incorporated into UK health and safety regulation?
Question 10:Does health and safety law suitably place responsibility in an appropriate way on those that create risk? If not what changes would be required?
Ever worker, Shop Steward, Health and Safety Rep, Shop Stewards Committee, Health and Safety Committee, Branch, Trade Union Council need to flood the DWP with our responses.
Employment minister Chris Grayling said: 'The Health and Safety at Work etc Act remains an effective framework. However we need to put common sense back into health and safety and ease the burdens on business, and I look forward to Professor Löfstedt's findings.' Professor Ragnar Löfstedt, who will lead the review, said: 'I want the review to be informed by concrete examples and evidence from a range of stakeholders including employer and employee organisations, government and professional health and safety bodies, practitioners and academics.' The government says the review 'is part of a package of changes to Britain's health and safety system to support the government's growth agenda and cut red tape.'
TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber: “Employers need to know that there is the possibility of a safety inspector visiting, otherwise there will be no incentive for them to ensure they are protecting their workers.
Removing proactive inspections from a large number of workplaces mean that employers can get away with ignoring the law until they kill or seriously injure someone. This is in no-one’s interests and will mean an increase in deaths and injuries, leading to a rush to the bottom as cowboy companies undercut responsible employers by cutting back on safety.
The proposals are not only bad for workers’ health and safety, they will also be bad for the economy as the health service and benefits system have to deal with the aftermath of more injuries and illnesses caused through unsafe work.
The strategy is not about better regulation, it is about deregulation and is all part of a bigger plan to reduce the rights that workers have to safety and fair treatment.”
Pesky safety regulations and meddling inspectors are bringing the economy to its knees and stifling job creation, or so the business lobby says. And it has received a sympathetic ear from the government, which this week announced a giant stride towards safety lawlessness at work.
Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspections will be slashed, red tape will be cut and most firms will be assured an inspector will never call. All for safety’s sake.
There are three large flies in this deregulatory ointment. The arguments are bogus, the statistics behind them are rigged and there’s enough couldn’t-give-a-damn employers out there to ensure millions suffer work-related health problems each year.
Still, this hasn’t stopped the government scuppering a system it acknowledges has delivered one of the world’s better workplace safety records. Never mind that safety regulations properly enforced are accepted to be the best way to make employers behave safely.
Launching the “Good health and safety, Good for everyone” strategy, employment minister Chris Grayling instead said Britain’s health and safety culture was “stifling business and holding back economic growth “.
And unsurprisingly, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), which publishes an annual off with their regulations manifesto, was among those to welcome the new strategy.
The most recent edition of BCC’s “Business burdens” report estimates workplace safety regulations lead to a recurring annual cost to business of £374m.
It sounds a lot. But BCC’s sums are seriously skewed.
BCC discounts entirely from its calculations the benefits to business from safety regulation, an omission it only acknowledges in the small print.
Whether it is safety-driven innovation, not making workers sick or not haemorrhaging valuable skills, there are real business benefits to not maiming your staff.
BCC ignores too the cost paid by the victims of slack health and safety standards. This human price outstrips the business cost several times over.
There’s the crunch of breaking bone in a workplace about 80 times every working day. Eyes or limbs are lost at work at a rate of two a day. Official figures indicate last year 1.3 million workers were harmed by their work, an increase on the previous year.
And these are just the injuries employers own up to – under-reporting is acknowledged to be rife.
There’s also a cash cost.
In Britain, occupational cancers alone cost society several billion pounds every year. Add in work-related heart and respiratory disease, mental illness and injuries and BCC’s costs complaints seem trivial bordering on ludicrous.
In fact, the total cost of neglecting workplace health and safety barely falls at all on business– the one party with something to gain from cost- and corner-cutting at the expense of safety.
HSE estimates less than a quarter of the cost of work-related injuries and ill-health is borne by employers, falling instead on “individuals and society”. And some recent evidence suggests this “cost-shifting” by business could be costing the rest of us considerably more.
When business and government frame health and safety protection as a job killer, rather than its absence as a killer full-stop, this keeps the real costs – people who get sick and die – safely out of the argument.
Safety enforcement was in crisis before the latest lurch toward lawlessness.
The prospects of a workplace seeing an HSE inspector last year slipped to once in a working lifetime. Just one in 15 major injuries at work – a scalping, blinding, the loss of a limb or two – resulted in a visit.
At the same time, HSE prosecutions sank to a record low, with just 735 convictions secured.
The workplace is already a safe haven for most rogue employers. Further deregulation will amplify the injustice, but that’s just what the government wants.
A 21 March ministerial statement from Chris Grayling noted the government would now concentrate “on dealing with serious breaches of health and safety regulation”.
If a scalping or an amputation is already unlikely to receive a knock at the door from HSE, under the new regime just how serious will an injury or breach have to be before an inspector calls?
Business over-estimates costs and ignores benefits with a purpose. It doesn’t want regulations and it doesn’t want enforcement. It has a government and a minister keen to oblige.
Somewhere down the line, people die when regulatory protection is removed. That is not a burden on business, it is a burden on families and a burden on the state.
That’s the ultimate capital crime.
Hilda Palmer of the Hazards Campaign said: "The path the ConDem government is taking with Chris Grayling at the helm as employment minister will kill, disable and injure more workers, not less. The corrupt equation they have used to justify their attacks on workplace health and safety and the cuts to our safety police has been well exposed. Their absolute failure to take into account the burden on the families and friends as well as the state, who pick up the bill of billions when workers are killed or injured, or the enormous benefits to society safe workplaces provide exposes their lack of concern for workers health. On Workers Memorial Day we will all be saying "Oi, Grayling! We aren't going to let you send us back to the dark ages!"