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February 4, 2013

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Safety minister heartened by ‘real signs of change’

The minister responsible for health and safety says he is encouraged by Professor Löfstedt’s independent assessment of the Government’s progress in reforming the Britain’s health and safety framework, suggesting there are “real signs of change in the right direction”.

Writing in the foreword to the Government’s own progress report on the implementation of health and safety reforms (separate from Prof Löfstedt’s report, also released today), Minister for employment Mark Hoban cited a number of achievements but conceded that there is still more to do “to create a modern, simplified, risk-based framework for health and safety in Great Britain”.

Highlighting the successful building and delivery of the London Olympic and Paralympic Games, he recognised that when health and safety is done right, it can act as an enabler. But he countered that frequent stories of a risk-averse approach to managing trivial risks – or the way in which ‘health and safety’ is used as a catch-all justification for unpopular decisions – is evidence that the country does not always get things right.

Last year, the Government announced two independent challenge panels – one looking at complaints from businesses about decisions made by HSE or local-authority inspectors; and a second, looking at complaints regarding advice from non-regulators, where the term ‘health and safety’ has been used.

According to the Government’s progress report, the panels are helping to tackle misreporting of health and safety matters. A paper presented to the HSE Board last year showed that the total volume of ‘health and safety gone mad’ stories in the national press fell by an eighth between 2010/11 and 2011/12. The paper also suggested there had been “a sharp improvement in favourability, with fewer solely negative stories and more coverage that reflected HSE’s position”.

Picking out a number of other achievements relating directly to the implementation of Prof Löfstedt’s proposals, the Government pointed out that:

  • 200 sets of outdated guidelines have been scrapped – one fifth of all health and safety publications;
  • one in 10 sets of health and safety regulations will have been scrapped by April 2013; and

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    11 years ago

    ‘real signs of change’ Yes, we will see real signs of change with thousands less proactive inspections in many sectors (37 i believe). Because without inspecting these sectors how are we to know whether workplaces are safe? Until an incident occurs and then react to it! Surely it is better to gain data from inspections & RIDDOR to know where to place resources. But these reports will be around 30,000 less since RIDDOR changed from 3 to 7 days. So there will be less data for the HSE to utilise!!

    11 years ago

    The Report is satire on an industrial scale. Revoking regulations business knew nothing about, the HSE ignored and cost business nothing is not progress. Cutting proactive inspections is not progression it is regression. In the preface to the Legionnella ACoP (2000) it states that combining the ACoP and technical information (HSG70) into one document will make it easier to understand. New idea: separate them again – to make it easier to understand! All underpinned by the Red Tape Fallacy.