Review expected to attack health and safety compensation culture

Former Conservative minister Lord Young’s review of health and safety was due to be published at the end of October 2010, with it widely expected to launch a scathing attack on “compensation culture” and health and safety red tape.

Young, a former minister in Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet, was appointed by Prime Minister David Cameron in June to review Britain’s health and safety rules.

His report was expected at the end of October, with Young giving a hint of its tone and content at the Conservative Party conference earlier in the month.

He said: “The compensation culture is out of control. We must move the balance back. It’s about changing the mindset. Our message is: just use common sense.”

He also criticised reports of schoolteachers being afraid to take children on day trips in case an accident should happen.

The review is expected to recommend forcing councils that wrongly ban events and activities on health and safety grounds to pay compensation and crack down on “no-win, no-fee” personal injury claims advertising.

But health and safety organisations have expressed dismay at his initial tone.

TUC health and safety officer Hugh Robertson said: “The signs are that Lord Young’s report will be seriously unbalanced. For sure, silly things are sometimes done in the name of health and safety and the behaviour of some claims firms can be reprehensible. But the real health and safety scandal in the UK is the 20,000 people who die each year due to injury or diseases linked to their work.”

Tom Mullarkey, chief executive of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, said: “The myth that health and safety is out of control has been debunked many, many times over. On the occasions when poor safety judgments are made, they typically reflect inadequate decision-making on the part of an individual or the excessive demands of third parties rather than regulators who have actually been working hard to simplify things.

“While it is of course important to tackle unnecessary red tape as businesses continue to struggle financially, isn’t it time to increase the focus on helping them avoid the unnecessary losses that accidents and ill health bring in their wake?”

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