Safety targets due soon

Government guidance on specific targets for improving workplace health and
safety expected this month

Employers will have specific targets to improve the health and safety of
their workplaces, the Government is due to announce this month.

The report, Revitalising health and safety, is expected to be published soon
by Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott.

Health and safety commissioner Dr Mike McKiernan told the Scottish OH Nurses
Forum annual conference in Glasgow last month that the changes would make a
real improvement to health and safety (see p7).

The aim will be to give "clearer guidance to those who want to comply
with the law and tougher action against those who do not", said Owen
Tudor, TUC senior policy officer.

The Government will call for closer joint working to reduce accidents and
illness at work. Targets will give a measure against which to judge
performance, similar to the objectives set out in the Our Healthier Nation
programme for public health.

There will also be an action programme to back up the announcement of
targets.

The programme reflects increasing concern that existing law is not applied
fully. "I do not think that anyone is looking for major changes to the
law," said Tudor. "We are looking at how we get a system that deals
with the problems there are at work."

Calls are growing for tougher enforcement. Labour MPs and trade unions have
complained that fines can be less than the cost of remedying an unsafe working
environment. The HSE is reviewing its enforcement policy, with a paper due out
this year.

The Government is also likely to approve more stringent fines and more
resources for workplace inspections.

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