Government urged not to cut health and safety laws

Health and safety experts have begged the Government to “merge laws, don’t cut them” when Professor Ragnar Löfstedt’s review of health and safety legislation reports in the autumn.

The review, announced in March, was hearing evidence from health and safety bodies during July and August 2011.

In its evidence, the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) made the plea that there was no scope for cuts, although some regulations could be merged as long as they did not weaken the responsibility that employers have to protect their staff from injury and ill health.

IOSH executive director of policy Dr Luise Vassie said: “We don’t see cuts as the answer – previous reviews of health and safety legislation have already weeded out redundant rules.”

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) urged the review team to take a broad and evidence-based approach to its task and look for practical solutions that could help all businesses, including small organisations.

Providing lower-risk small and medium-sized firms with the option of producing simple health and safety action plans based on the combined safety policy and risk assessment template already offered by the Health and Safety Executive could be a useful innovation, it added.

Roger Bibbings, RoSPA’s occupational safety adviser, said: “There may be a case for better regulatory housekeeping, but owners and managers in small firms do not read raw, undigested health and safety law. What they need is good guidance and, above all, competent advisers to point them in the right direction.”

Manufacturers’ organisation the EEF has called for reform of the current compensation system, including the introduction of a fixed-fee system for smaller personal injury claims.

EEF head of health and safety Steve Pointer said: “There is much that is right about UK health and safety legislation and should not be changed. However, the way that it is interpreted in the compensation system is serving the interests of neither employers nor employees and is to blame for many of the problems laid at the door of health and safety.”

XpertHR provides a model policy statement to help set out company rules on the management of the health and safety at work of employees.

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