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January 5, 2012

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Prime minister vows to “kill off the health and safety culture for good”

In his most strident attack yet on health and safety David Cameron has pledged to cut back the “monster” he says it has become, free business from the “stranglehold” of red tape it creates, and reduce the “pointless time-wasting” it causes for the economy.

Speaking to an audience of small-business owners and entrepreneurs in Maidenhead this morning Mr Cameron outlined the Government’s plans to make it easier for them to cope with “the great big machine of health and safety that has built up over the years”.

As well as cutting back rules and regulations, and examining the way in which they are enforced to ensure it is reasonable, specific steps he will take include:

  • capping the amount lawyers can earn from personal-injury claims of up to £25,000 as a way of reducing overall costs in cases funded by ‘no win, no fee’ deals. This, said the prime minister, would tackle the compensation culture, and address the fear from businesses of being sued for trivial, or excess claims;
  • changing the law on strict liability in civil health and safety cases so that employers are no longer automatically at fault if something goes wrong. This stems from a recommendation by Prof Ragnar Löfstedt in his review published last November, in which he called for a review of all strict-liability offences by June 2013; and
  • investigating the demands made by insurance companies to ensure that levels of compliance do not force businesses to go far beyond what is actually required by law to secure their insurance cover.

According to Mr Cameron, these are the first steps in the “war” he intends to wage against the “excessive health and safety culture that has become an albatross around the neck of British businesses”.

He concluded: “So this coalition has a clear New Year’s resolution: to kill off the health and safety culture for good. I want 2012 to go down in history not just as Olympics year or Diamond Jubilee year, but the year we get a lot of this pointless time-wasting out of the British economy and British life once and for all.”

IOSH was “appalled” at the prime minister’s “unhelpful” comments, pointing out that the reason the health and safety legislative system exists is to prevent death, injury, or illness at work, and protect livelihoods in the process.

The Institution’s head of policy and public affairs, Richard Jones, added: “The problem identified by the Government’s own reviews is not the law, but rather exaggerated fear of being sued, fed by aggressive marketing.”€

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John (DAI) Carter
John (DAI) Carter

I suggest the PM reads the Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. Its the finest legislation in the history of the UK. What he should do is put a stop to our total acceptance of European Directives being immediately converted into UK Regulations under the above Act. It is these directives that have led to business being inundated with Bumf, The legal profession becoming wealthy and a new breed of busybodies called ‘Risk Assessors’ who have brought Health & Safety in disrepute.

Jason
Jason

Unbelievable – what he describes is his battle against the compensation culture and the vulures who thrive off this. What he doesn’t seem to understand is that by making such irresponsible statements he is encouraging employers to ignore good practice no doubt leading to more incidents and guess what more claims!!

James
James

Normally I hear people talk about improving the safety culture, but to have a Prime Minister talk about ‘killing it off’ is frankly a disgrace. Cameron needs to move into the modern world and bring his speech writers along with him.

Info
Info

Absolutely appalled!
Its hard enough to get any SME to take responsibility for the Health and Safety of their employees without misguided unfounded and downright dangerous edits from ther like of Mr Cameron, who is only creating this band wagon to win votes!!!!! What about leading from the front!

What about those who give professional, proportionate advice and consultancy? See you all at the job centre!

Ianmiles2000
Ianmiles2000

We need, as individuals, to protest vigorously against these continued simplistic and damaging comments made by the PM. If you think his comments were wrong, email and write to Chris Grayling and the PM – don’t just leave it to our professional bodies. I did after the PM’s post-riot ‘fight-back’ speech and I’ll do so again now.

Hopkins425
Hopkins425

More profit, more jobs, more injuries, more deaths I am sure that the number that would sign up will be considerably less when they realise they are signing up for a greater risk of death, being maimed or contracting a serious disease. These laws are in place because employers have a history of consistently ignoring the welfare of employees to maximise their profits

Holdene122
Holdene122

Paul – i think you have a very valid point.We can all quote examples of the “bonkers conkers” brigade & we all know that insurance companies & under experienced jobsworths can ruin the true meaning of H&S law, but the real point of a “good health & safety culture” is to prevent fatalities and serious injuries /illnesses at work. If DC had to witness the effects of an industrial accident/failure to comply with H&S law, maybe he’d be more careful with his agressive rhetoric against H&S culture

Hands
Hands

Me thinks we are heading back to the victorian times govenor, I musn’t forget to doff my cap on the way out

Grahamwindram
Grahamwindram

Ill informed and not helpfull comments from “Dave” who just wants your vote. His grasp on the subject is about the same as Lord Young let the professional Lofsted have the final say. Clearly he is the only one with suitable knowledge of the subject

Gr_Danks
Gr_Danks

This is waht happens when thick people vote – they vote TORY !!!!!

Filberton
Filberton

Read the small-print, it is the hangers on he is after. Pprimary school sports event where the insurer is demanding the school hold an additional £10M third party injury policy taken out with them (they want an want an exhorbitant premium). Cyclist who went “off road” , cycled in to a tree and is suing because he was not warned there were trees in the forrest (Laugh by all means but it is true!!).
Lets junk the rubbish but be carefull not to throw out the baby with the bath water!

John
John

Mr Cameron should visit the affected families of those who are injured, maimed or killed at work as a consequence of unscrupulous, money grabbing employers. Good employers have nothing to fear. I strongly suspect that Mr Cameron is jumping on the anti Health and Safety bandwagon as a way of deflecting attention from the real problems that needs to be addressed across the UK.

John
John

While it is plain to see that David Cameron is way off the mark and hasn’t got a clue about H&S there is a problem that needs to be dealt with. The current claims culture has resulted in me having to employ someone full time just to defend the company against constant claims and while we don’t pay out because we do have good H&S practices I have to fork out thousands of pounds every year to prove it

Jonnyb
Jonnyb

Michael, the cliche or metaphor does work on the following level:

Wearing the albatross was punishment for the ancient mariners reckless actions which resulted directly in the deaths of his work colleagues and his own “life-in-death” existence until his penitent prayer.

It follows that in this situation, the way to remove this albatross is for businesses to follow the law and ensure their actions do not put others at risk.

After all, legislation is only a burden to the criminal.

😉

Meden
Meden

Yet more rubbish from the PM
We have a somewhat false figure on injury and death in the UK work place
Firstly the most dangerous indutries are now so small accident rates are likewise.
Secondly, we do not include accidents on the roads in our work place stats, they are appauling numbers who are killed and injuried driving company vehicles.
the number of senior managers being prosecuted are on the increase.
The number of accidents reported are estimated to be between 50 – 75% under reported.

Markhodgson211
Markhodgson211

I do not know who the PM is appealing to with his comments it’s really simple as I see it.
Good business will welcome and see the benefits of sensible risk management and will therefore ignore the comments. A simplistic well enforced legal framework, which we all want, will ensure organisations that do not manage risk, struggle and will have their licence to operate removed by the insurance market, the latter will do what they want regardless.

The ‘monster’ has legs will run and run.

Mark_Tinae
Mark_Tinae

Who? if you mean the PM then you are clearly thinking that to lessen the compliance burden on industry is bad – how wrong, it frees up industry to be more competitive, make more products, yes profit and generate more jobs. I am sure those that are unemployed would jump at the chance of a job even if they could sign a waiver from a couple of pointless regulations, perhaps DSE/MHR/some of COSHH etc.

Mark_Tinae
Mark_Tinae

At last, someone who has the guts to speak out about the whole raft of pointless legislation that clogs a common sense approach to risk/business. All those who have declared their outrage at the PMs comments do have a vested interest in further complication of H&S law. There are so many pointless requirements (tippex under the COSHH regs for one) that defy belief. Lets focus on the real dangers.

Lesnettleton
Lesnettleton

I find it VERY interesting that one set of data are never proclaimed – the cost to ‘the taxpayer’ of those injuries and ill health. Imagine the effect of a headline ‘ Small Businesses Complain that the Taxpayers Object to Paying £17 Billion a Year for our Lack of Care’, but isn’t taht exactly what they are stating? Full compliance with the law would massively reduce the accidents and ill health so the businesses expect the taxpayer to foot the bill for their failure.

Ksillitoe
Ksillitoe

Disappointing that PM gives imbalanced opinion again in an attempt to ‘cosy up’ to cheap tabloid media. Any opinion on H&S law and statutory compliance both civil and criminal must be based on areasonably balanced viewpoint – we all agree that H&S systems need to be simple and practical without undue ‘box ticking’ and bureaucracy but his messasge again seems to blame an excellent H&S culture that has ytaken to 30+ years to develop for all life’s ill’s and burdens – he needs a history lesson!!

Kevinryder
Kevinryder

the PM seems to be getting his advice from the same brand of so called specialists who advocate extreme and knee jerk reaction he is seeking to abolish.
The problem is not with general legilsation but the prevalence of amateurs who profess to know the legislation but sell cheap advice suppiorted by the HSE who will only ever give ultrasafe guidance. Robens set out to make H&S self assessed, the loophole is that the advisors to industry have lost persepective of real risk for fear of being sued

Kelleeandsteve
Kelleeandsteve

I am really concerned by some comments left, in particular people stating regulations such as DSE, MH and COSHH being pointless. One of the most complaints and injuries you get in the workplace is from MH and DSE use. They are not pointless. People agreeing with the h&s culture comments by the PM on this website need to be in a different profession because clearly, safety is not your concern. I expect that kind of talk from managers, not h&s professionals. simplify, not remove the regs.

Kelleandsteve
Kelleandsteve

We will now be in a situation where employers will completely ignore all health and safety and put every single one of his/her employees at risk. Well done David Cameron for trying to brainwash society into believe that health and safety is a burden. There are too many businesses out there, large and small that cut corners to make a profit and ignoring basic health and safety regulations. This man is poison to this country and we are in for a very very scary and unsafe future.

Jpv2001
Jpv2001

Yet again Cameron has confirmed he is an idiot of the highest order. If he were made to read about the accidents caused and pain and suffering of individuals recorded here he may change his tune; and that is with H&S legislation in place, Lord knows what will happen if H&S is no longer a priority. His comments are most unhelpful and he should be taken to task for them.

Femi
Femi

Whereby Cameron may have a legitimate point in reducing the claim culture, his choice of words were rather disappointing. Many employers are already ignoring the H&S in their business. After these comments it will be a case of why bother.
DSE is an important part of H&S especially with all the pain and suffering being experienced in the the ‘unnatural ‘ environment of the office. One could argue that H&S including DSE is saving the NHS money.

Elloboda
Elloboda

o dear mr cameron has never been on a big job/ he should read the shp and see what the country of back street builders are all about. went to spain seen a man with a rope pully. pulling a bucket of mortare 15 meters up with no edge protection in a pair of shorts and flip flops scary.. reading some of the problems on shp it seems with camron we could end up just like that in the future, carnt wait well done mr camron.

Bobwallace5
Bobwallace5

Am I alone in actually reading the text! Reducing the compensation culture and excessive demands from insurers. Reasonable enforcement. These are good! I would like to see the DSE and MH Regs disappear as they are a tool for NWNF lawyers and add no value to H&S. I am currently working in Africa with a mining company can apply sense to H&S to reduce the serious issues and protect workers. Let’s concentrate on significant risk shall we as this is what is ruining lives, not the trivial.

Bob
Bob

Contradiction abounds, he refers to the Olympics in one breath (which was inundated with stringent safety procedures and excessive cost to prevent any bad publicity during its construction) and then berates the same culture that hinders industry?

Funny how all the SH companies are still flourishing under such intrusion of liberty by unwanted burden?

And its amazing how foreign companies continue to work here with such unjustifiable intrusion? Yet make millions (Tax Free mostly)

Baffled?

Bill
Bill

There is lack of practical understanding of safety issues: largely in big firms, preoccupied with ‘box-ticking’ systems of ‘compliance’ and a misunderstanding the purpose of ISO 9000 and other audit procedures, which reflect neither quality nor ability but which are simply a record of disguised incompetence!
Such specious approach to ‘compliance’ has contributed greatly to increased, relative rates of occupational accident, since 1970, in the UK and World wide.

Bbennett0179
Bbennett0179

I note Mr Bott has not responded to my post of the 10/01. I watched your performance on Channel 4 News last night and challenge you to an open debate on lawyers fees on NWNF claims. Would welcome DC to be in the audience and maybe realise why we are forced to engage strict rules in H&S. For those who understand where I am comming from please support me and vote positive. Mr Bott I will let you choose venue time and place?

Bbennett0179
Bbennett0179

I wholeheartedly welcome the proposition of capping fees that “No Win No Fee” lawyers claim. Couple of questions for Mr Bott, 1, How much have lawyers fees increased since the Woolfe Reforms were introduced? 2, What is the hourly rate of a grade 1 solicitor? 3, When will the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers realise that once the golden goose is dead, we will all suffer? 4, In total how much collectively did your members claim back in fees on “No Win No Fee” claims last year?. Reply?

Andy
Andy

Not surprising really the track records, overwhelming imporatance attached to cost. Government are now concerned about Liver damage among the young from excessive drinking, the first consideration is the cost to the NHS not the cost to the lives of those affected.
We now face with the Burden to Business of the health and safety Monster , knee jerk again treating the symptons not the cause, safety practitioners have been warning Governments for years about risk averse attitudes vs common sense!

Alnrv
Alnrv

A good Health & Safety culture attempts to keeps us safe and is a given, this message must always start at the Top ! There is no higher place than that of PM and his message nails his colours to the mast. Remarks such as ” kill off the health and safety culture for good “, are a disgrace to his office and undoubtedly suggests to some that peoples health and safety at work is not important. Typical politician, headline grabbing opportunity, create distraction, avoid reality and truth.

Alexhoward_121
Alexhoward_121

What you suggest has already been attempted. Consequently, there have been £millions made by no-win-no-fee lawyers, surely this by your comment is ‘free business enterprise’ too?

It’s just another step on the road to this country a 3rd world one!!

Alexhoward_121
Alexhoward_121

Making sure that the company makes a good profit doesn’t mean that it’s ok to hurt people – and not hurting people actually helps many business get more work – Just ask some of the contractors that worked on the Olympics!

The last paragraph in the article says it all!!

Where did DC get his advice for his blurt? The business lobby I’d wager! It’s a bit like cuts in policing and detection being recommended by the people that the police are trying to protect us from

Alexhoward_121
Alexhoward_121

Mick; I believe that you’ve hit the nail right on the head there!

The PM’s statement is so tabloid it beggars belief

Brianmiller10
Brianmiller10

The chap is a Tory – through & through, so I wouldnt bother looking for any evidence of a social (no pun) conscience.
shameful indeed!

Brill
Brill

Brilliant. The only 2 groups to comment here are people who work in H&S and lawyers who benefit from it. Businesses and workers (which I am one) don’t want it, are there riots on the street from those without a vested interest, bring it on Davey, abolish 1974 and set us free less government coercion, it has no right to interfere with the free business enterprise.

Chris
Chris

Anything that simplifies the legal requirements for business should be welcomed. However, Mr Cameron saying he will “Kill off the health and safety culture” is proposterous!! Anybody that knows anything about protection principles knows that nurturing the safety culture of a business is vital if you want to protect the wellbeing of it’s employees. The only way to ensure businesses do everything practicable to comply with the law when balancing against cost is to improve, not kill safety culture!

Elane
Elane

And printing this article AGAIN has really helped!
IOSH was “appalled” at the prime minister’s “unhelpful” comments
Stop giving it air time

Ecstirrup
Ecstirrup

Safety adviser for 24yrs in multi national and multi site companiesr. The last 7yrs a Sole Trader offering a H&S Consultancy and Training service mainly to SME’s. It is my opinion that the compliance requirements for SME’s is ounerous, most of the time beyond their in house expertise. They often fall foul of Claims made against them through common sense requirements of behaviour. Are often sold H&S packages with no back up,are left wondering what they pay for. Time for a better deal for SME’s

E
E

David Cameron is first and foremost a politician and as they say – there’s one thing worse than being talked about and that’s NOT being talked about. . I agree that what he should have said is that it is the myth about being sued that is the problem, not health and safety per se (as confirmed by Prof Loftstedt). If you really want to get to the bottom of this then do an FOI request to the Prime Minister asking for the evidence to support his statements. (Then wait for the wooly reply)!!!

Duxwill
Duxwill

We had to work hard to qualify and be competent to practice as a H&S professionals, what qualification and experience gives him the right to question how we save lives and make the UK a safe place to work.
Health and Safety is not a burden to those who know what they are doing, it’s those who misinterpret the requirements that make H&S a millstone, those who use it as an excuse to delay or cancel works/projects because they do want to spend the money or time to do things properly.

Dthoma17
Dthoma17

As Teresa May said..the nasty party..Cameron has demonstrated His true colours rather than wanting good business he wants cowboy business. Good to see Richard being so pr active.

Davidc
Davidc

The reality is that the UK economy is no longer valid, and needs to be able to compete globally, either we can sit back continue the trend of increasing unemployment, poverty increase or make the country viable as a place to carry out business, slimming down H&S is part of that. Its either 50% unemployment –poverty & a return to traditional manufacturing that’s viable globally, your choice. We need to see the bigger picture.
I am neutral in this only trying to put forward a blanced argument

David
David

Clearly the aim is to enable business to make more profit and therefore create more jobs and lessen unemployment but this will be at the cost of higher injury and death rates. Having worked as a consultant it used to be difficult enough to persuade SME’s to take H&S seriously now they have been given a charter to ignore it. Anyone working as a consultant has my sympathy.

David
David

It’s no secret that some of the most profitable companies are the safest operators. The tabloids created the nickname “‘elf and safety” and He’s fallen for the propaganda. I do hope that no harm befalls him, as a result of his proposed reforms…

Constance
Constance

This seems to indicate, yet again, the ‘jobs for the boys’ type culture for ‘businesses’ being protected by the current government! some H&S legislation/procedure could do with a review and the culture of i tripped over so you owe me should indeed be challenged, but not at the price of the safety of individuals to appease the industry bosses (commonly known as backers I believe)

Chris
Chris

Back to the Dark Ages, factories will become work houses, fatalities and injuries will increase dramatically. Well done Mr P.M. our ‘leader’! I’m all for getting rid of the blame claim culture and making regulations clearer; we might not like all of them but they do help to protect us all. What would be the P.M action be to a slip, trip or fall injury at no.10? who’s to blame? why wasnt ‘I’ protected against it? lets put a regulation there to stop it happening again! wheres my safety manager?

Alexhoward_121
Alexhoward_121

I have had four goes at trying to put into words that can be published on this site and I still think I haven’t been able to verbalise how I feel about this sycophantic pandering to businesses that hurt people by breaking the law!