Government backs accreditation for health and safety consultants

The government has said it supports the case for the accreditation of health and safety consultants, in a move that the industry has said will help to stop over-zealous decisions and “bonkers bans”.

The announcement was made within the government’s response to the Work and Pensions Commons Select Committee report on the work of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), published in April.

This called for the accreditation of industry consultants and for the HSE to increase the number of inspections it carried out.

In response, the government said it would be bringing all sides together to assess how it “could promote the responsible and proportionate provision of health and safety advice”.

“Any accreditation scheme should not only just test expertise, but also test and accredit people so that they are able to apply that expertise in a proportionate and sensible manner,” it added.

But it rejected the calls for an increase in resources for inspections, arguing that the committee had not made a compelling case.

The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) welcomed the government’s acceptance of the need for employers and workers to know how to access competent health and safety advice.

IOSH president Ray Hurst, said: “Unfortunately, at the moment anyone can operate as a health and safety consultant, without any qualifications or experience. We think this is wrong. Employers should know what to look for and make sure that they and their workers are getting the best advice from the best people. They deserve that.”

But construction industry Ucatt accused ministers of “complacency which is placing workers lives at risk” because the government had failed to back calls for the introduction of statutory directors’ duties for health and safety at work.

By introducing such duties, there would be a possibility that directors who deliberately flouted health and safety laws could be imprisoned, the union argued.

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