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The health and safety legislative framework should be simpler and clearer from tomorrow (6 April), as new regulations that repeal and revoke a number of statutory instruments come into force, subject to Parliamentary approval.
The Health and Safety (Miscellaneous Repeals, Revocations and Amendments) Regulations 2013 were laid before Parliament on 4 March.
These Regulations repeal one Act and revoke 12 instruments (plus a related provision in the Factories Act 1961), which, according to the HSE, have either been superceded by more up-to-date regulations, are redundant, or do not deliver their intended benefits.
The Executive stresses that the changes do not compromise essential health and safety protections, but are aimed at making the legislative framework easier to understand.
Nevertheless, it is mindful that the changes – particularly in relation to the revocation of the Construction (Head Protection) Regulations 1989 – could send out the wrong message that employers do not need to concern themselves with certain health and safety requirements.
Employers will need to comply with the requirements of the Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 1992, which have been amended so that they cover the provision and use of head protection on construction sites, thereby maintaining the same level of legal protection following the removal of the 1989 Regulations.
To guard against such complacency or misunderstanding, the HSE is working with the construction industry, especially small contractors, to ensure that it understands the continuing need for employers to provide hard hats and ensure they are worn on construction sites.
However, UCATT believes the HSE is not being proactive enough in this regard and is instead relying on the industry to send out the message that head protection is important. The construction union’s general secretary, Steve Murphy, warned: “Many construction companies will use the scrapping of the regulations as an excuse not to provide life-saving protective equipment.€