HSE Inspection Cuts
What they mean for SMEs
In March this year Work and Pensions Minister, Chris Grayling MP, announced a package of changes to Britain’s health and safety system. The move followed a review of health and safety, Common Sense, Common Safety, published by Lord Young last year.
Under the plans, employers will no longer face automatic health and safety inspections. This measure will cut the number of inspections carried out in the UK by at least a third.
Instead, health and safety inspectors will be instructed to concentrate their efforts on high risk locations, like major energy facilities, and on rogue employers who are putting the safety of their staff and the public at risk.
Rogue employers who endanger public and employee safety will have to pay for the costs of the investigation into their activities.
A new register of qualified health and safety consultants has been made available to businesses, and those who are untrained or give false advice will be excluded from the approved list.
Advice for SMEs
To help small and medium-sized organisations better understand their health and safety needs, the HSE has enhanced its website with a suite of new resources including:
- An interactive risk assessment tool for low-risk businesses called Health and Safety Made Simple provides straightforward step-by-step guidance on what small and low risk businesses need to do to achieve a basic level of health and safety compliance: www.hse.gov.uk/simple-health-safety/index.htm
- An expanded Frequently Asked Questions to answer common queries on topics such as RIDDOR, first aid and what health and safety responsibilities new businesses have to consider.
- Launch of the official Occupational Safety and Health Consultants Register (OSHCR) that lists health and safety practitioners who are accredited to one of the professional bodies in the industry. Those who do not have the requisite expertise and experience are excluded from the register, making it easier for employers to access reliable, reputable advice: www.oshcr.org
The Government is also launching a review of all existing health and safety law with a view to scrapping measures that are not needed and put an unnecessary burden on business. The review, which is being chaired by a leading risk management specialist, Professor Ragnar E Lofstedt, of King’s College London, shall publish its results by the end of October 2011.
The aims of the review are to determine:
- the scope for consolidating, simplifying or abolishing regulations;
- whether the requirements of EU Directives are being unnecessarily ‘gold-plated’ on translation into UK law;
- if lessons can be learned from comparison with health and safety regimes in other countries;
- whether there is a clear link between regulation and positive health and safety outcomes;
- if there is evidence of inappropriate litigation and compensation arising from health and safety legislation;
- whether changes to legislation are needed to clarify the legal position of employers in cases where employees act in an irresponsible manner.
The review will gather evidence from a range of key stakeholders, including:
- Government bodies;
- employers’ organisations;
- employee organisations;
- professional health and safety bodies;
Common Sense, Common Safety