Lord Young Review - Common Sense Common Safety

Wednesday, 20th Oct '10 at 11:02

Lord Young of Graffham Review of Health and Safety - Common Sense Common SafetyLord Young of Graffham was commissioned by Prime Minister David Cameron to “investigate and report back to the Prime Minister on the rise of the compensation culture over the last decade coupled with the current low standing that health and safety legislation now enjoys and to suggest solutions.

The review looks at the range of factors that have led to the rise in civil claims, the poor perception of health and safety by the general public and businesses alike, and how (mis-)interpretation and ‘gold plating’ has caused overly bureaucratic burdens in some sectors of the economy. Importantly Lord Young acknowledges the importance of Health and Safety and the benefits it has created for the UK:

“Health and safety is important. Over the nearly four decades since the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 was passed we have built up an enviable record: today we have the lowest number of non-fatal accidents and the second lowest number of fatal accidents at work in Europe. Anybody looking at a construction site today would find it hard to recognise from a similar site only a decade or two ago, and this applies throughout all hazardous occupations.”

“My aim is to free businesses from the imposition of unnecessary bureaucratic burdens and return the proper application of health and safety to the high standing it deserves”

“While health and safety has become a subject for humour for the general public, for businesses it is a source of confusion. Straightforward legislation originally put in place for hazardous industries has been applied in a disproportionate way to low risk businesses”

Lord Young emphasises that the use of health and safety as an excuse not to do something with no legitimate reason is inappropriate and a major cause of the poor perceptions of health and safety in both businesses and the general public. He recommends that such actions, for example banning of school fetes “for health and safety reasons”, should be put in writing and there should be a route for redress to challenge these decisions.

There are a range of common sense solutions advocated in his review, including simplification of guidance and clarifying requirements for small businesses, easing burdens on schools, educational visits and small businesses and reform of both the compensation system and insurance industry. These measures, combined with an accredited consultants register aim to reduce ‘over-the-top’ application of health and safety in many workplaces.

There are also more controversial recommendations included in the review, including extending the period for RIDDOR reportable accidents from 3 days to 7 days and a thorough review and consolidation of current regulations into a single set of regulations.

The main recommendations of this review are listed below, but please see the full review.

Key Recommendations Noted

Health and Safety Legislation (Pages 38-40)

  • HSE should produce clear, separate, guidance under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Code of Practice focused on small and medium businesses engaged in lower risk activities;
  • Current regulations should be reviewed and consolidated into a single set of accessible regulations;
  • UK should take lead in cooperating with other EU member states to ensure that EU rules are not overly prescriptive, applied proportionately and do not attempt to achieve total elimination of risk.

Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (Page 30)

  • Amend the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995, through which businesses record workplace accidents and send returns to a centralised body, by extending to seven days the period before an injury or accident needs to be reported.
  • The HSE should also re-examine the operation of the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 to determine whether this is the best approach to providing an accurate national picture of workplace accidents.

Raising standards – Accredited Health and Safety Consultants (Pages 31-32)

  • Professionalise health and safety consultants with a qualification requirement that all consultants should be accredited to professional bodies. Initially the HSE could take the lead in establishing the validation body for qualifications, working with the relevant sector and professional bodies. However, this function should be run by the professional bodies as soon as possible.
  • Establish a web based directory of accredited health and safety consultants.

Local authorities (Pages 26-27)

  • Officials who ban events on health and safety grounds should put their reasons in writing.
  • Enable citizens to have a route for redress where they want to challenge local officials’ decisions. Local authorities will conduct an internal review of all refusals on the grounds of health and safety.
  • Citizens should be able to refer unfair decisions to the Ombudsman, and a fast track process should be implemented to ensure that decisions can be overturned within two weeks. If appropriate, the Ombudsman may award damages where it is not possible to reinstate an event. If the Ombudsman’s role requires further strengthening, then legislation should be considered.

Low hazard workplaces (Pages 27-30)

  • Simplify the risk assessment procedure for low hazard workplaces such as offices, classrooms and shops.The HSE should create simpler interactive risk assessments for low hazard workplaces, and make them available on its website.
  • The HSE should create periodic checklists that enable businesses operating in low hazard environments to check and record their compliance with regulations as well as online video demonstrations of best practice in form completion.
  • The HSE should develop similar checklists for use by voluntary organisations.
  • Exempt employers from risk assessments for employees working from home in a low hazard environment.
  • Exempt self-employed people in low hazard businesses from risk assessments.

Police and Fire Services (Pages 35-36)

  • Police and Fire officers should not be at risk of investigation or prosecution when engaged in the course of their duties if they have put themselves at risk as a result of committing a heroic act.
  • HSE, Association of Chief Police Officers and Crown Prosecution service should consider further guidance to put this into effect.

Compensation Culture (Pages 18-23)

  • Introduce a simplified claims procedure for personal injury claims similar to that for road traffic accidents under £10,000 on a fixed costs basis. Explore the possibility of extending the framework of such a scheme to cover low value medical negligence claims.
  • Examine the option of extending the upper limit for road traffic accident personal injury claims to £25,000.
  • Introduce the recommendations in Lord Justice Jackson’s review of civil litigation costs.
  • Restrict the operation of referral agencies and personal injury lawyers and control the volume and type of advertising.
  • Clarify (through legislation if necessary) that people will not be held liable for any consequences due to well-intentioned voluntary acts on their part.

Insurance (Pages 32-33)

  • Insurance companies should cease the current practice that requires businesses operating in low hazard environments to employ health and safety consultants to carry out full health and safety risk assessments.
  • Where health and safety consultants are employed to carry out full health and safety risk assessments, only qualified consultants who are included on the web based directory should be used.
  • There should be consultation with the insurance industry to ensure that worthwhile activities are not unnecessarily curtailed on health and safety grounds. Insurance companies should draw up a code of practice on health and safety for businesses and the voluntary sector. If the industry is unable to draw up such a code, then legislation should be considered.

Working with larger companies (Page 33)

  • Undertake a consultation with the intention of having an improved system with an enhanced role for the HSE in place for large multi-site retail businesses as soon as practicable.

Food Safety (Pages 33-35)

  • Combining food safety and health and safety inspections in local authorities.
  • Local authorities to adopt the Food Standards Agency’s Food Hygiene Rating Scheme of 0 – 5 and publish this in an open, online, database. Harness local and national media to promote the scheme, whilst encouraging individual businesses to display their own ratings – combined with compulsory display for those failing to achieve a generally satisfactory standard (level 3).
  • Results of inspections to be published in an open database;
  • Open the delivery of inspections to accredited certification bodies, reducing the burden on local authorities and allowing them to focus on high-risk businesses.

Adventure Training (Page 36)

  • Abolish Adventure Activities Licensing Authority and replace licensing with a code of practice.

Educational Visits (Pages 36-37)

  • Simplify the process for schools and similar organisations to undertake before taking children on trips;
  • Introduce a single consent form to cover all activities a child may undertake during his or her time at school;
  • Introduce simplified risk assessments for classrooms;
  • Shift to a system of risk-benefit assessment and consider reviewing the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 to separate play and leisure from workplace contexts.

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