Don’t use sledgehammer to crack nut, safety union tells government after Löfstedt


Don’t use sledgehammer to crack nut, safety union tells government after Löfstedt

Plans to shake up health and safety regulation in the light of the Löfstedt review should not be used as an excuse to go further than his recommendations, professionals' union Prospect said today (Monday).

The union representing more than 1,600 health and safety inspectors welcomed Löfstedt's conclusion that "I have neither seen nor heard any evidence to suggest that there is a case for radically altering or stripping back current health and safety regulation" and that in general the regulations are "fit for purpose." It also welcomed his observations that:

Nearly nine out of ten employers who have had contact with the Health and Safety Executive see it as a 'helpful' organisation Health and safety regulations from Europe are NOT gold-plated – Lofstedt found "little evidence" of this, and recommends that the government work more closely with the EU to ensure new and existing legislation is risk-based and evidence-basedThe HSE should be given the authority to direct all local authority inspection and enforcement activity to ensure consistency and targeting of higher risk areas.

However, Prospect is concerned about Löfstedt's proposal to exempt self-employed people from health and safety law. On his call for a review of 'strict liability' for employers where an employee is considered responsible for their own accident, Prospect urges caution to ensure workers are not penalised unfairly.

Prospect Deputy General Secretary Mike Clancy said: "The government has clearly not got what it wanted from Löfstedt, and has now stated that its efforts will not stop with the actions outlined in the professor's report.

"The government's announcement of challenge panels from January 2012 is an example of it choosing to use the scope of a policy review to smuggle in other reforms without consulting.

"Prospect's own submission to Löfstedt stressed that health and safety regulation was neither excessive nor damaging to innovation. It is not regulation but non-compliance and poor interpretation of the rules by employers that should be the government's greatest concern. It must not use these findings to blame workers in situations where their employer is at fault, or to justify any idea that health and safety is a burden on business."