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November 3, 2005

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Influence- Update

IOSH members have contributed to a wide range of legislative, strategic and guidance consultations recently, including responses to the draft Corporate Manslaughter Bill, HM Treasury guidance, and a number of documents that look at how scientific evidence is used as a basis for policy decisions.

‘Growing credibility’

The controversial draft Corporate Manslaughter Bill closed for public comments in June this year, and is now undergoing pre-legislative scrutiny. This relatively new process has been developed to ensure better legislation is prepared at the outset, reducing the likelihood of subsequent amendments.

Members of the Home Affairs Committee and the Work and Pensions Committee requested permission to use the IOSH consultation response as formal evidence in their inquiry. The review process began on 12 October, and once used as evidence, the IOSH response will appear on the UK Parliament website (www.parliament.uk) and be printed in the inquiry report. You can read the IOSH response at http://www.iosh.co.uk/

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Richard Jones, director of Technical Affairs said: “I’m very pleased that for the third time, a government department has sought to use our consultation submission as formal evidence in its inquiry. I think it speaks volumes about the quality of our submissions and the growing credibility IOSH is establishing among those government departments that have consulted us.”

Treasured guidance

HM Treasury sought IOSH members’ input for their guidance to government policy-makers on managing risks to the public. The IOSH response highlighted the important role that education and training have in raising public awareness of occupational safety and health (OSH) and understanding of risk concepts. This point was acknowledged by HM Treasury and is now included in its guidance.

Restoring public confidence

Educating and reassuring the public and stakeholders about the evidence base for decisions that impact on their health and safety has emerged as a key theme for the government. Areas where public confidence has been eroded include: BSE, genetically modified (GM) crops, vaccinations, and, more recently, telephone masts. In recognition of this, the government Chief Scientific Advisor sought views on how decision-makers could ensure access to the high-quality and wide-ranging advice they needed to restore public confidence. IOSH argued that using evidence and analysis from a variety of credible sources, ensuring that results are appropriately interpreted, taking full account of the limitations of the studies concerned, and requiring that research reports are peer-reviewed, were all essential to this process. Publication of the evidence would also ensure that key messages are being clearly and effectively communicated to stakeholder groups.

Scientific research

In our response to the Draft HSC Science Strategy 2005-2008, which looked at the principles that underpin the HSE’s use of scientific research, IOSH maintained that actively engaging a much wider range of stakeholders would benefit health and safety research and that including health and safety knowledge and skills throughout the curriculum, from compulsory to post-compulsory education, would encourage awareness and the philosophy of sensible health and safety.

If you have an opinion about the use of science and research, especially health research, a document looking at a new national health research strategy and the NHS contribution to this is currently open for comments on the IOSH website at: www.iosh.co.uk/consultationdocuments

Your responses continue to affect policy at all levels, so please keep sending them in to [email protected] and play a part in shaping the health and safety landscape of the future.

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