Institution of Occupational Health and Safety calls for higher standards

The health and safety profession needs to be officially regulated to raise standards, the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has said.

IOSH president-elect Ray Hurst has said the fact that at the moment anyone could set up as a health and safety consultant or adviser with no qualifications or verifiable competence is unacceptable.

“This is something that needs to change,” he said. “The advice health and safety professionals give can be the difference between life and death.

“Regulation would mean that to practise in occupational health and safety, people would need to satisfy certain competence criteria – such as having relevant qualifications and experience,” he added.

“Once people are legally required to prove they hold certain qualifications or experience before practising, perhaps some of the crazier ‘bonkers conkers’ stories will be prevented, and the reputation of the health and safety professional raised to the level it truly deserves.”

IOSH has also warned that plans to limit on-the-spot safety inspections could result in increased workplace deaths and injuries.

The Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform is considering making random inspections a smaller element of health and safety regulation, and has recommended that regulators “only intervene when there is a clear case for protection”.

But Richard Jones, IOSH director of technical affairs, said: “In some of the poorest workplaces, an inspector’s visit ‘out of the blue’ may be the workers’ only hope of improvement.”

He added: “Random inspections are an important element, as ‘rogue’ organisations need to be deterred by the prospect of being caught out.”

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