Health and Safety Regulation Reforms in a Nutshell

Health and Safety Regulation Reforms in a Nutshell

02nd November 2015

The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is well on the way to reforming more than 80% of our health and safety legislation and reducing the overall stock of legislation by 50% in line with the current government’s “one in, one out” policy. The HSE has been collaborating with both industry and the government in a bid to tackle the so called “compensation culture” here in the UK and is amending the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The aim is to ensure that civil claims for breaches of health and safety duties will in the future be brought under the common law in instances where negligence can be proved.

It seems that excessive health and safety rules and regulations for businesses combined with the compensation culture is discouraging innovation and growth here in Britain. While people do need to be protected in the workplace, businesses in the UK also deserve to have the burden of unnecessary health and safety rules reduced. Following reviews by Lord Young (former enterprise advisor to the government) and Professor Lofstedt (Professor of Risk Management at King’s College London) the following issues were identified:

  • The structure for regulation is too complicated
  • There are too many inspections of low risk and well performing workplaces
  • Businesses often receive poor health and safety advice from inadequately qualified consultants
  • The compensation culture results in businesses being fearful of being sued for accidents even when they are not at fault.

In a bid to take a lighter approach when it comes to health and safety in the workplace, the following changes have been brought in:

  • The Health and Safety Executive has reduced the number of proactive inspections it does annually by a third (from about 33,000 to 22,000).
  • The National Local Authority Enforcement Code uses a risk-based approach in targeting health and safety interventions for local authority regulators to follow.
  • The Better Regulations Delivery Office has improved the primary authority scheme to make it more accessible to SMEs and to cover more regulations – it has also improved inspection plans.

Since 2010 there have also been changes in health and safety legislation and guidance designed to make it easier for businesses – the Health and Safety Executive has:

  • Published Health and Safety Made Simple in a bid to enable SMEs to achieve a basic level of health and safety management in the workplace.
  • Clarified and simplified the accident and ill health reporting for businesses and provided straightforward, web-based guidance.
  • Reduced the overall stock of health and safety legislation by 50% so that legislation is simpler and up to date.
  • Removed the restriction on using only HSE approved first aid training courses and issued new guidance.

Furthermore, the Ministry of Justice has implemented reforms designed to reduce the costs of litigation to both claimants and businesses aimed at discouraging fraudulent claims and banned inducements by legal services providers in personal injury claims.