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Lofstedt review brings common sense to health and safety

9 December 2011

Peter Caplehorn, technical director of Scott Brownrigg explains the implications of the Lofstedt review on health and safety.

Two weeks ago ministers Chris Grayling MP and Mark Prisk introduced the Government response to the Lofstedt report. This was actually the launch of Professor Ragnar Lofstedt’s  review of Health and Safety in the UK but such is the Governments commitment to see action in this area that the response supporting the reports findings was published at the same time.

The professor was keen to point out that he has approached the subject looking at evidence based review with some 250 individual submissions as well as interviews and visits to specific areas of interest.

The context follows on from the Lord Young Enquiry and the widely held view that the UK has one of the best records for health and safety and one of the worst for red tape.

Taken in the round the recommendations are not a radical rethinking but an attempt to reassert common sense at the heart of heath and safety. Many of the proposals will snip away and the ridiculous and misplaced thinking and give new encouragement to those bowed down by the tick box fuehrer’s, to once again stand up to over zealous demands. We should all get behind the recommendations and ensure that they become the new direction for health and safety in the UK. 

His report identifies six main recommendations. The first of these is that lone workers should be exempt from health and safety law who’s work does not pose a risk.

Evidence suggests that little needs to changed in respect of the legislation however implementation could be better therefore the report recommends that the HSE review all Codes of Practice by June next year with the aim of making them clearer with practical examples of what compliance looks like.

Consistent enforcement is needed therefore a change to enable HSE to direct Local authority enforcement is recommended.

A substantial proportion of health and safety regulation comes from the EU the report therefore recommends that a much closer working relationship is fashioned to ensure we engage and contribute to future regulation

The regulatory framework is just too complex and could benefit from consolidation to be completed by spring 2015.

The original intention of the pre action protocol is to be clarified and by June 2013 provisions that impose strict liability are to  have ‘where reasonably practical’ inserted where this is not needed.

A further set of recommendations cover the removal of some legislation that is simply not needed and others that need clarification or a more practical approach. Almost these, the move to a RIDDOR period of 7 days and a revised CDM ACOP will be most welcome. In regard of CDM there is also a series of recommendations regarding reduction of bureaucracy, clear definitions, and help and guidance for small projects.

There is also emphasis on the understanding of risk, so often over egged and disproportionately applied.

The Governments response is in most areas applying a firmly positive response in each of these areas with time line and prescribed actions.

In all the review is to be praised and the prospect of even some of the potential outcomes being delivered will make the UK a much more grown up country to be in without any reduction in real health and safety. The only people who should feel worried about this report are those who receive money out of making health and safety complex bureaucratic and elitist at the expense of common sense.

The tile of the professors report is ‘Reclaiming health and safety for all’ a very apt title I wish it well.

Comments

I worked as a self employed surveyor for many years for various Local Authorities. A number of times I was called out to schools because Health and Safety officers had called for the school to be closed for "Health & Safety" reasons, twice for unsafe roofs which in effect were flat roofs that if people climbed on they could fall off. The final agreement being a sign "if you climb on this roof you could fall off and injure yourself" , in another instant a special needs school was threatened with closure as children could open the windows and fall out, all the children were in wheelchairs and again it was agreed to put window restrictors on the windows. I could go on forever our health and safety regulations need overhauling

Eddie Monk, 10 December 2011

I agree with Eddie above, Safety officers are often detached from practical reality. My local PCT was advised they could no longer lift disabled patients, manually or by hoist, from their wheelchairs into the dentist chair due to the risk of injury for staff. As a result patients received treatment while sat in the wheelchair, I advised senior management this represented a two tier delivery in treatment and service contrary to DDA regulations. Despite the clear risk of subjecting disabled patients to uneccessary pain and discomfort, management claimed they did not have the money to install a hydraulic wheelchair platform, although they presided over a multi million £ estate budget. I though it incredulous that a respected health body could preside over such gross ignorance and ineptitude while exposing themselves to legal claims

mike, 29 January 2012

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