The Chancellor has promised that 84 per cent of health and safety regulation will be scrapped or improved, but leading health and safety experts warn that the real issue surrounds ‘guidance’.
The Government commissioned Lofstedt Report, which was published last year, reviewed existing health and safety regulations and found that health and safety law is "fit for purpose" although there were a few Regulations, which could be amended or repealed. However, common opinion is that many of the regulations inline to be repealed are likely to be out-dated and no longer enforced anyway. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have consulted on repealing six Regulations and one Order – none of which is of any great significance to health and safety e.g. Pottery (Health and Welfare) Special Regulations 1950.
Commenting, Pat Perry, Executive Chairman of leading health and safety consultancy, Perry Scott Nash, said: "I’m wondering whether George Osborne has got a little confused with scrapping and improving legislation, and scrapping and improving out-dated guidance. The important part of the statement relating to health and safety from George Osborne relates to the Governments intention to abolish "strict liability" and to insist that insurance companies do more to assist their clients in understanding what they need to do to comply with health and safety law – this should be a force for good".
On this point, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills’ (BIS) latest initiative, launched mid March 2012, is titled "Focus on Enforcement". BIS acknowledges that sometimes the Regulations are fine, but inconsistent and inappropriate enforcement causes the problems and that enforcement could be done better. For more information on this go to: www.discuss.bis.gov.uk/focusonenforcement