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June 3, 2014

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Bill to curb ‘elf and safety’ culture announced by Ministry of Justice

A bill that intends to reduce the health and safety ‘jobsworth’ culture has been announced by the Secretary of State for Justice.
 
The Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Bill (SARAH), revealed by Chris Grayling in a blog for Conservative Home, is intended to remove the bureaucracy that can deter people from doing good deeds.
 
Mr Grayling argues that people are often put off from doing the “right thing” out of fear that they will end up facing a lawsuit for negligence. The idea behind SARAH, the Justice Secretary argues, is to protect people who act in the interests of society. 
 
 “Take the responsible employer who puts in place proper training for staff, who has sensible safety procedures, and tries to do the right thing,” Mr Grayling said. “And then someone injures themselves doing something stupid or something that no reasonable person would ever have expected to be a risk. 
 
“Common sense says that the law should not simply penalise the employer for what has gone wrong.”
 
The Ministry of Justice said the law would be changed so that judges will have to give weight to factors when deciding negligence cases.
 
The proposed bill, which would apply in England and Wales, will serve as a signpost from Parliament to the Courts about how the Government wants the law to be applied.

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Andy C
Andy C
10 years ago

The aim has always been well intended for evetybodies H&S protection in the workplace. In many cases now companies just pay up rather than incure more costs trying to fight a case which they think they are not guilty of but its not worth the bad publicity. If it sorts that out then that will be good for everyone. The costs incurred by companies who do try and fight a case are astronomic.

AndyN
AndyN
10 years ago

If this means that we stop getting warnings from lawyers that we might get sued if someone slips on a path or pavement that has been cleared by a member of the public, then I’m all for it. BUT I don’t trust Grayling to do that without slipping in a measure which makes it more difficult for real industial injuries to be compensated. It will obviously enrich lawyers through their astronomical costs for defence of a claim.

Chris
Chris
10 years ago

Seems a sensible move though don’t think the title of this article describes the issue. The change of bill won’t necessarily curb “elf and safety”, but simply makes judges weigh up the factors in a case for companies who do as much as they can for safety. I still don’t feel the law fully considers and rewards good employer safety in some cases or penalises employee responsibility (or the lack of). I agree this can be difficult especially in incidents involving loss of life or serious life changing injury.

JAllen
JAllen
10 years ago

Although on the face of it, it might appear to be yet another attack on health and safety standards, I actually agree with it. In far too many cases, employers are prosecuted for the stupidity of employees. We’ve all seen the cases where people stick parts of themselves into dangerous machinery, when common sense would suggest this was a bad idea. A question of personal responsibility, which is badly lacking in some people.

Keith T
Keith T
10 years ago

I have to agree totally with Tony W sort out the no win no fee firms that are bring good companies to their knees, I am a H&S advisor and I meet many companies that work very safely and care about the safety of their employees; but are still wide open to unfair fines based on ridiculous requirements that some large companies would struggle to fiance or manage let alone a small business

Nigel Bryson
Nigel Bryson
10 years ago

I will be interested in how many cases Mr Graying and his researchers – the Daily Mail – can find. As far as Employer Liability insurance is concerned there is no ‘compensation culture’. The number of settled cases has dropped around 60% in 10 years. As as been said by insurance company representatives many times, their clients often have no records to defend cases, so they have to pay up. ie employers at fault. Mr Grayling admitted that the elf’an’safety stories were a myth in 2011 so he, presumably, is continuing to peddle solutions to mythical problems, as he did… Read more »

Paul
Paul
10 years ago

Am I barking up the wrong tree here or isn’t this practice already in existence? The Act allows for prosecution by employees who breach the law as well as employers. When it comes to civil litigation, the Courts already take into consideration contributory factors when judging a claim. This is just another diversion by the Government – they promised most H&S Law would be gone within one term of power and now they find that actually, there’s not much wrong with the law, it’s just public perception from Political propaganda and Daily Mail readers.

Peter Rimmer
Peter Rimmer
10 years ago

If common sense prevailed would we need any laws or legislation, not only for safety and health but also for road traffic and every other aspect of life? Possibly not! Sadly common sense is a scare commodity in relatively short supply. The law as it stands can take a pragmatic view if it chooses but rarely does, so why will this change make any difference?

peter tanczos
peter tanczos
9 years ago

Firstly, negligence cases (civil) have nothing to do with health & safety law (criminal) and everything to do with liability.

Secondly, enacting law through a Bill which will eventually emerge as an Act or Regulation will do nothing to prevent a civil case being brought nor will it have much effect on the amount of damages being awarded. Clearly Grayling has no trust in the application of the law, but I fail to see how introducing more legislation will improve this situation.

Tony W
Tony W
10 years ago

This would appear on the face of it to be a good thing if it reduces the public view of our profession as ‘elf ‘n’ safety.

The reasonable person measurement can not be argued against.

Surely it would do more good though to remove the freedom of ambulance chasing “legal” firms to advertise. This was the worst thing any government did to our profession.