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November 15, 2022

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Prime Minister urged by IOSH to reverse decision that could create “race to the bottom”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has been called on by The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) to reverse a decision made by his predecessor Liz Truss to exempt around 40,000 businesses from reporting requirements and regulations.

IOSH’s Chief Executive Vanessa Harwood-Whitcher has written to the Prime Minister, saying such a move would be “an early, bold step in the right direction”.

The plans were announced in early October to widen exemptions which apply to the smallest businesses to those with fewer than 500 employees.

It was claimed that it would “free” 40,000 businesses from “future bureaucracy”, however Harwood-Whitcher makes it clear in the letter that it would be a “backward step”, adding “it risks increasing costs (direct and indirect) from occupational injuries, ill-health and damages that will inhibit growth in the long term”.

She added that there has been significant progress in workplace health and safety standards over the past half-century but adds that this has recently stalled and goes on to say that a failure to reverse the decision could lead to “a race to the bottom that disadvantages everyone”.

“We call on your Government to reverse this decision.” She continued, “Now is the time to invest in new ways of valuing and protecting all our workforce and our supply chains, and decent work, which is something that can lead to substantial growth.”

In addition, Harwood-Whitcher reiterates the three key areas for action which were made to the previous Prime Minister back in September, which were:

  • Take a more proactive approach to ratifying International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions relating to safety and occupational health, following the recent resolution to include a safe and healthy working environment in the ILO Declaration of Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work
  • Protect, maintain and reinforce UK health and safety standards and bring the long-awaited Employment Bill forward as a matter of urgency
  • Lead policy makers, regulators, employers and workers’ representatives in ensuring asbestos is handled and disposed of in a safe, regulated way that prevents its exposure – workers’ and people’s lives depend on it

The IOSH Chief Executive closed the letter by saying: “Any failure to act on these key areas for action and associated challenges will not only lead to poorer work, working conditions and workers’ welfare but also a workforce that’s characterised by low productivity, with economic and structural inequalities.

“This is why we look forward to working with you and your new Government – to ensure this does not happen. So that we can all share in a future that is safer innovative and more productive.”


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rather than striving for absolute safety. Risk is
rather than striving for absolute safety. Risk is
1 year ago

Is it a bold step or a backward step??