Health and safety shake-up

Introduction
of government initiative sees biggest health and safety shake-up in a quarter
of a century

The
Government has heralded a culture change as it introduced the biggest shake-up
to the health and safety system in 25 years.

The
Revitalising Health and Safety initiative includes targets to reduce the number
of days lost from work-related injury and ill health, as well as a commitment
to cut accidents, as part of the awaited strategy.

Imprisonment
will be extended to most health and safety offences. A director’s code of
practice will require a named person to be responsible for health and safety
within every company. This follows confirmation of a law on corporate
manslaughter (Occupational Health, June).

The
move comes in response to what many observers believe is a "plateau"
in achievement from the 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act, and the complaint
by many Labour MPs that fines are far too low.

There
will be incentives as well as penalties, and advice geared to promoting good
health, as well as clamping down on unsafe practices. The Government promised
to "explore with the insurance industry incentives to reward good health
and safety performers at the expense of those companies with poor records".

"Health
and safety at work should be a core requirement of business activity, not an
inconvenient ‘add-on’," said Bill Callaghan, chairman of the Health and
Safety Commission. "As far as I am concerned, those who cannot manage
health and safety, cannot manage."

Nola
Ishmael, nursing officer at the DoH, told the Association of Occupational
Health Nurse Practitioners conference shortly before the Government’s
announcement, that the OH profession promised to be full stakeholders in
implementing a 10-year strategy for improving health in the workplace.

www.hse.gov.uk/links/revital.htm

Action
plan


The Revitalising Health and Safety initiative will see:


Best practice and return-to-work strategies.


A director’s code of practice, which will make a named person responsible for
health and safety.


Tougher penalties, including imprisonment for most health and safety offences,
and the maximum fine available in the lower court to be extended to most health
and safety breaches.


An examination of new penalties, such as fines linked to turnover, prohibition
of bonuses and suspension of managers without pay.


Help for small businesses, including a grant and support through the Small
Business Service.


Abolition of Crown immunity, to help with accountability in the public sector.


Examination with the insurance industry of incentives to reward good health and
safety performers at the expense of those with poor records.

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