News

Redrafted HSE guidance will put workers at risk

APIL PI Focus: September 2013

Since the release of Professor Lofstedt’s report Reclaiming Health and Safety for All, the government has taken the view that a significant number of health and safety regulations and practices are an ‘unnecessary burden’ to employers, and should therefore be revoked.

From October 2013, for example, it will no longer be necessary to report to the Health and Safety Executive an accident in which someone is rendered temporarily blind. In the June issue of PI Focus, we expressed concerns that the drive for simplicity will put safety at risk and, as the reforms rumble on, those fears have been justified. In its determination

to reduce the ‘burden’ of health and safety regulation, the government could very well be encouraging employers to be careless about workplace safety. The latest reductions in protection, in APIL’s view, concern several redrafted Approved Codes of Practice ACOPs), which provide guidance to employers on how to comply with health and safety regulations.

The HSE maintains that the redrafted codes of practice will only be updated to make them clearer and easier to understand, and that there will be no reduction in the level of protection. On closer inspection, however, the new ACOP for the Workplace Health Safety and Welfare Regulations, for example, provides less detail than its predecessor, and in some parts uses language which is open to broad interpretation by the employer, without providing examples of how to comply with the regulations. Employers will turn to the ACOP believing that if they comply with it, they will be doing enough to comply with the regulation.

APIL believes that the new ACOP will not provide employers with enough information to comply fully with the regulation, and there will be a drop in safety standards as a result.

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