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October 27, 2010

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MP uses Lord Young’s proposals to put six new bills before Parliament

Six new Private Member’s Bills were presented to Parliament last week on the back of recommendations in Lord Young’s review of health and safety, published on 15 October.

All sponsored by Christopher Chope (pictured), Conservative MP for Christchurch in Dorset, the following bills had their first reading on 21 October:

  • Health and Safety at Work (Amendment) Bill – to amend the HSWA 1974 to make provisions for separate risk-assessment requirements for play, leisure and work-based activities; and to introduce simplified risk assessments for schools;
  • Compensation (Limitation) Bill – to prevent conditional fee agreement success fees and after-the-event insurance premiums being recoverable from the losing party in civil litigation; to facilitate damages-based agreements for contingency fees in respect of successful litigants;
  • Health and Safety Consultants (Qualifications) Bill – to introduce qualification requirements for health and safety consultants; and to provide accreditation for such consultants;
  • Low Hazard Workplaces (Risk Assessment Exemption) Bill – to exempt employers from the requirement to produce a written risk assessment in respect of low-hazard workplaces and the premises of those working from their own home with low-hazard equipment;
  • RIDDOR Regulation Bill – to reduce the duties on employers to report matters under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995; and
  • Self-employment (Risk Assessment Exemption) Bill – to exempt self-employed persons engaged in low-hazard activity from the requirement to produce a written risk assessment.

As yet, there are no texts available for the bills, as these are not usually printed until nearer to the time of the Second Reading debate. Five of the bills have been scheduled for a Second Reading on dates between March and July next year, with the RIDDOR Regulation Bill due to be debated on 17 December this year.

IOSH said the raft of bills is a “show of support” from MPs for some of Lord Young’s recommendations but it expressed reservations about some of them. Said the Institution’s policy and technical director, Richard Jones: “The Health and Safety at Work (Amendment) Bill refers to separate requirements for play and leisure but also to ‘work-based activities’. This appears to extend Lord Young’s proposal by including work-experience situations.

“Chope is also proposing a Health and Safety Consultants (Qualifications) Bill, whereas Lord Young believes that a voluntary system should be given a chance, before legislation is considered.”

Jones emphasised that Private Members’ Bills rarely become law but IOSH will, nevertheless, be keeping a “watchful eye” on their development ahead of their scheduled Second Readings. He added: “It’s very interesting to see this further evidence of health and safety issues gaining a higher profile in Parliament. Throughout Lord Young’s review we’ve emphasised the need to ensure any proposed changes do not lower health and safety standards and essential worker protection.”

Five specific consultations relating to Lord Young’s recommendations will also be held next year, including one on the operation of RIDDOR, and an improved system for assessing health and safety standards for larger companies. Both are due to be launched in early 2011 and IOSH will be responding to all five, following consultation with members. 
 

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Andy
Andy
13 years ago

Bills which are put through quickly rarely have the desired effect, and often have unforseen consequences. It’s all very well putting these bills forward as an act of support, but give it some time, think about the possible consequences, consult with the people this will affect and rather than going for the quick result, take a bit longer and go for the best result.

Bill
Bill
13 years ago

If I am running a simple business and I want to establish that it is Low hazard (surely it ought to be low risk ?)then I have to do a risk assessment. In the course of that exercise I identify some risks that can be reduced. do I spend time measuring them, or do I just get on and control them ?
if I have now controlled them, is it worth my time and effort to go further and measure the risk level, so that I can avoid, what, having to do risk assessments.

Bobwallace5
Bobwallace5
13 years ago

Many of the aspects that these bills are attempting to address are valid. RIDDOR legislation especially needs addressing as some things that are reported are not workplace accidents simply a result of poor physical fitness.
I believe the MH Regulations should also be reviewed to prevent unfit people being able to use the legislation as a tool to obtain unwarranted compensation. These regulations make a mockery of practical H&S management and should only apply where MH is a significant activity

Chadsmascout
Chadsmascout
13 years ago

I’m sure my MD now is convinced this is a low hazard workplace, the same can be said of all my old MD’s. So who makes that decision? My job involves consulting amongst other things, so does that mean I lose my job because the company won’t pay for registration….because be assured they wont!!

David
David
13 years ago

Fully agree with this comment. Many of the ‘crazy’ decisions made as a result of risk assessments (conkers, apple dunking etc) are as a direct result of the assessor forgetting to employ the term SIGNIFICANT. The HSE, LEHO’s and the Legal Society would do well to canvass their respective enforcement officers/lawyers and remind them to disregard hazards/risks which are not significant.

Elaine
Elaine
13 years ago

Many of the report recommendations were confused, conflated different issues and sets of legislation and were based on little or no empirical evidence. Is a ‘low risk’ shop the local DIY hypermarket with forklifts and deliveries, a supermarket with bakery, butchery and major vehicle movement? What about physical hazards from the nature of premises affecting the risk – small shop with cellar trap door in public area; old difficult buildings or risks from adjacent premises? Fatalies have resulted

Elaine
Elaine
13 years ago

The 7 day reporting makes sense. However one of RIDDOR’s main benefits and functions is to enable the enforcing authority (both HSE and L.A.) to investigate accidents and identify poor safety management and take remedial action whether advisory, formal or where circumstances warrant it prosecution. Having worked in LA enforcement I know how valuable that opportunity is, especially given the lack of resources and low frequency rates for inspection.

Gordon
Gordon
13 years ago

The RIDDOR reporting system is a very useful tool to allow the HSE to monitor activities. Ensuring all companies report as they should.
Lord Young’s recommendation to move from 3 days + = RIDDOR to 7 days would get my support. Having a medical professional backing the claim of the individual that an accident occured must be common sense.

Graham
Graham
13 years ago

The existing legislation only requires risk assessments to be made for activities and situations liable to pose SIGNIFICANT risk. Therefore, there’s no need for new legislation to exempt employers from producing written risk assessments for “low hazard” workplaces and equipment! Also if such legislation came into being, it would be something of an “own goal” for a government which wants to do away with unnecessary H&S legislation.

Kghedges
Kghedges
13 years ago

I support these private member bills. I agree with Graham B, there is a risk of an own goal so far as the ‘Low Hazard Workplaces’ though.

Lorraine
Lorraine
13 years ago

It isn’t the law per say that is the issue, it is the interpretation of it, by regulators, insurance companies, consultants and in many case risk averse organisations who feed the Daily Mail headlines. Why do we have a government who say they are anti legislation proposing to bring in more of the same?

Lorraine
Lorraine
13 years ago

Is it the law that is the issue or the interpretation? How can a government who claim to be anti-legislation propose to bring in more legislation to tackle the situation? Surely the exisiting provisions are adequate – it is the application of them that is the problem. Would the (public) time and money be better put into practical guidance rather than more regulations?

Mike
Mike
13 years ago

I am a member of IIRSM and have been a practioner & consultant for a long period of time. It appears to me that with the introduction of a register, only those persons holding either a Fellowship of IIRSM, or Chartered member status of IOSH will be allowed onto it. Surely, that will then lead to the members of IIRSM who are already consultants and holding a Diploma to show competency within the field, being made redundant, as will not clients only choose consultants from the ” Approved List?”

Mike
Mike
13 years ago

I fully agree with Graham B (29/11/10) and would suggest that by & large the existing legislation provides a suitable framework. It is the application that requires improvement so that a proportionate approach is used by all parties. I believe improved ACoPs would be a far better way of achieving a consistent response to risk coupled with well publicised acceptable custom and practice.

I fear legislative changes would not provide the level of detail required at the point where there is a need.

Neil
Neil
13 years ago

Who is going to decide what is low risk & what is not?
Is there going to be a documented criteria you MUST fall in to establish you can class your industry as Low risk or do you leave it to the individuals (who would probably most likely class them selves as low risk,to eliminate the need for assessments.

R
R
13 years ago

Instead of going off on a ‘knee jerk’ reaction to Lord Young’s report is it not better to take a step back and commission a review of the legislation and how it is interpreted. Steve there are professionals who do get from behind the desk and do ‘proper safety work’ but it is not highly publicised and recognised. It would appear to me that people should read the legislation before advocating private members bills to change them.

Stephen
Stephen
13 years ago

At last sensible safety. It wont please the book readers and the “I Know the law” brigade, but to us pragmatic safety professionals it is absolutley brilliant that David Cameron is bringing normality into the workplace. So get out from behind your desks and do some proper safety work.

Tanczosp
Tanczosp
13 years ago

The HASAWA (amendment bill) is a complete waste of time as the requirement to perform risk assessments is in the Management Regs, not the Act giving powers to the HSE to enforce!
Low Hazard Workplaces, how do you know they’re low hazard without doing the risk assessment?
As to conditional fee agreements, these were introduced when Legal Aid was withdrawn from compensation claims, to prevent lawyers taking a percentage of damages awarded. Compensation is based on “negligence” rather than harm

Tanczosp
Tanczosp
13 years ago

If you want to reduce the size and quantity of compensation claims, you need to separate the injured parties medical needs from the damages. Companies won’t provide financial aid for an IP’s medical needs in case it’s construed as an admission of liability. If a universal insurance policy would “pick up the tab” for the medical, the subsequent claims for damages caused by employers negligence would be much smaller and the IP could be returned to work quicker without bad blood

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