Selective hearing – CDM 2015
The Health and Safety Executive’s consultation on CDM 2015 garnered 1,427 responses which HSE has claimed gave them ‘a strong case to proceed’ with the implementation of CDM 15 broadly as proposed.
However, HSE has stated that “among the 1,427 responses received, some 65 per cent were received from either CDM co-ordinators or from the entertainment sector (which was not the target of the consultation) whose responses are effectively campaigns”. It went on to state that while HSE acknowledged the difficulties for the entertainment sector, more weight was given to ‘representative’ responses. It was quite clear from the content of the report that absolutely no consideration was given to the points that would have been raised by the 400 respondents from the events and entertainments sector.
Presumably therefore, the ‘strong case’ was built on the 35 per cent of ‘representative’ respondents who came up with the answer that the HSE was looking for. Of the total responses not considered 28 per cent were from the events (entertainment) industry. How can HSE maintain on the one hand that they were not the target of the consultation and on the other insist that these regulations will still apply to that industry? How is an industry to respond to the prospect of the imposition of a weighty piece of health and safety law that never applied to it before, if not to organise itself so that it can form a view and respond in a coherent way? This is not a ‘campaign’ it is a legitimate response by an industry to a public consultation process; a ‘campaign’ is writing angry letters to your MP and The Times.
The response to Consultation Document 261 posed 20 questions requiring individuals to respond and necessitating the analysis and consideration of some serious and complex issues. The 400 event industry responses came from individual business leaders in the industry, some at director level, and safety professionals who are experts in their respective fields across TV, entertainment, theatres, exhibitions, festivals and sporting events. These were not ‘unrepresentative’ and these are the same professionals on whom HSE will presumably rely to draft the relevant guidance to the new regulations. Will their views be summarily dismissed in this process too? All these individuals took time out of their busy working lives to give serious consideration to a public consultation process only to have their views and their responses high-handedly discounted.
With the CDM co-ordinators there is an obvious issue. It is easy to see why they would not respond favourably to a proposal in which their role will be cut, however, this was a public consultation process and they were entitled to have their views considered, not arbitrarily dismissed en masse as being partisan.
The events industry broadly agrees that CDM 15, which never applied before, is fundamentally ill suited to the industry as a whole and the costs of implementing it will be disproportionate to any benefits. HSE thus far has not articulated a case to show that these regulations are a necessary imposition on an industry that is vital to Britain’s economy at a time when the Government is supposed to be paring back over burdensome and unnecessary regulation on businesses.
The key questions here, however, are what is the point of a public consultation process when the public body concerned ignores the answers that inconveniently do not the support the legislation it is proposing to bring in? And how can we have faith in future consultations on health and safety legislation?
Simon Garrett is managing director of X-Venture Global Risk Solutions and author of the G-guide, a guide to global standards of health and safety at exhibitions.