UK's Safety & Health Simplicity Era Begins
Lord Young's report delivered Oct. 15 recommends qualification requirements for health and safety consultants and a longer period, seven days, in which businesses would have to report an injury or accident to authorities.
The Health and Safety Executive's chief welcomed the Oct. 15 report from Lord Young on what the prime minister calls the "compensation culture" of England, apparently signaling that the country's OSH authority can work with Young's recommendation. HSE already has created responses to two recommendations:
- a 20-minute online risk assessment for offices, launched Oct. 15, with other online tools for similarly low-risk workplaces to follow
- a new Occupational Safety Consultants Register to be set up in January 2011
"Lord Young's report is an important milestone on the road to recovery for the reputation of real health and safety. HSE welcomes it and will be actively pursuing those recommendations within our remit," said Judith Hackitt, the HSE chair.
Nevertheless, the report recommends significant changes. First, some kind of qualifications board would decide whether safety and health consultants are qualified to practice. Young also recommended amending the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases, and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 by giving businesses a longer period, seven days, to report an injury or accident to authorities. He said HSE should review these regulations "to determine whether this is the best approach to providing an accurate picture of workplace accidents."
The thrust of the recommendations, commissioned by Prime Minister David Cameron as part of his sweeping austerity changes, is to remove burdensome regulations and oversight from low-risk enterprises. Young said the insurance industry should be encouraged to draw up a health and safety code of practice for businesses, and legislation should be considered only if insurers cannot create one. Insurers should stop requiring low-hazard businesses to employ consultants to perform full health and safety risk assessments, he wrote.
"The current raft of health and safety regulations should be consolidated into a single set of accessible regulations," his report states. "The UK should take the lead in cooperating with other member states to ensure that EU health and safety rules for low risk businesses are not overly prescriptive, are proportionate and do not attempt to achieve the elimination of risk."