Changes to health and safety are afoot following a review of health and safety law and the growth of the compensation culture. Perhaps best known for his resignation as a government advisor following his claim that that most Brits “have never had it so good”, Lord Young’s legacy comes in the form of his report “Common Sense, Common Safety”.
The report was commissioned by the Prime Minister in order to put common sense back into health and safety and to “free businesses from unnecessary bureaucratic burdens and the fear of having to pay out unjustified damages claims and legal fees”.
The report discusses at length the demise of the public regard of health and safety following the media attention which has in recent years released articles about the health and safety laws that “are spoiling the fun” by banning conker games in the playground and similar events. There is good news for small and medium sized businesses as the report also recognises the struggle many have with getting to grips with all the laws and regulations.
The report proposes a return to common sense with legislation versus safety, a reduction in bureaucracy and greater consistency of approach from health and safety officials. The report highlights the need for the businesses and public to move away from the “if there’s blame there’s a claim” culture, dams unreasonable litigious action and puts pressure on solicitors who actively pursue personal claims from prospective clients who may have fallen foul of an accident. Lord Young also appeals for responsibility for ones actions and ones own health and safety.
Lord Young makes a number of recommendations, which of particular interest to food businesses are:
The report also proposes the extension of the Health & Safety Executives (HSE’s) remit on health and safety matters. This includes greater involvement in retail and hospitality organisations that are national or who use the Primary Authority Scheme.
The report also calls for a proportionate approach from professional, qualified consultants; a philosophy which STS have always adopted.
The Coalition Government have endorsed Lord Young’s recommendations, so they now represent Government policy. A programme has been put in place to act on and implement the recommendations. STS welcome the reforms, and trust that Lord Young’s report will mark a turning point against the tide of beurocracy.