Lord Young: we need clearer, simpler H&S regime in construction

18 October 2010

A government report into health and safety and the compensation culture has recommended more clarity on laws to be followed by the construction industry, Construction News reports.

Lord Young was asked to look into the subject by Prime Minister, David Cameron, to tackle “compensation culture” in the UK. He said that construction stakeholders had told him they were having trouble applying health and safety regulations.

A submission from the Institute of Civil Engineers (ICE) stated that the difficulty interpreting the term “reasonably practical” caused a great deal of unnecessary burdens and costs for those working in industry.

The report says: “As a result there was strong support for more detailed, targeted advice on interpreting regulations and carrying out risk assessments from the Health and Safety Executive, particularly from those representing small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).”

Young also suggested to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) that it require minimum standards for safety consultants and set up a body to police these requirements, with a website carrying details of individuals’ consultations. The proposal that the qualification should be a degree and two year’s work experience.

However, a submission from the Constructional Steelwork Association said that setting minimum standards too high could “move us from a situation where there are too many consultants to one where there are too few.” It thought that endorsements from trade associations might be preferable.

Meanwhile, the Construction Enquirer website says that Young’s report recommends reducing the bureaucracy surrounding the RIDDOR accident reporting regulations.

Construction companies currently have to file a RIDDOR report if an employee is off work for three days following an accident: Lord Young is calling for that period to be extended to 7. This would also be the first step in a wider campaign to revamp the law.

Away from construction, the report suggested the adoption of a simplified claims procedure for personal injury claims under £10,000 on a fixed-cost basis similar to that for road traffic accidents. It also called for the restriction of the operation of referral agencies and personal injury lawyers as well as curbing the volume and type of advertising.

Amongst others, contributions were received from the CBI, Construction Skills, the Federation for Small Businesses, ICE, the TUC and Unite the Union. 



Fundamental to any review should be the time currently attached to a RIDDOR accident. This has not changed for years and we now have the added burden of self certification for sickness leave which I believe undermines the accuracy of the RIDDOR process and the integrity behind its principles.
Seven day reporting would greatly assist in the more meaningful accident statistics.

David Jones, 18 October 2010

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