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Lord Young's 'common-sense' approach to health and safety in low-hazard workplaces is broadly welcomed

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Lord Young has published his review into the UK's compensation culture, advising a 'common sense' approach to health and safety.

The impact for HR includes a suggested simplification in the risk assessment procedure for low-hazard workplaces such as offices, classrooms and shops.

 

The Health and Safety Executive has been advised to create simpler interactive risk assessments for low-hazard workplaces, and make them available on its website. The recommendations exempt employers from risk assessments for employees working from home in a low-hazard environment and self-employed people in low-hazard businesses from risk assessments.

 

The recommendations push for assurance where health and safety consultants are employed to carry out full health and safety risk assessments, only qualified consultants who are included on the web-based directory should be used.

 

EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, has welcomed today’s report on health and safety by Young and urged it to now build an alliance in Europe to stem the flow of new health and safety legislation
 
EEF’s head of health and safety, Steve Pointer, said: "Manufacturers will welcome this report. Practical action to protect employees from harm is important but health and safety has become too focused on completing paperwork and protecting the public from every possible risk. Much of this is driven not by regulation, but by compensation claims, poorly-qualified consultants and over-reactions by some local authorities.
 
"Lord Young has listened and responded to concerns about introducing statutory licensing of advisors and consultants, which would have imposed unnecessary costs on lower risk businesses.
 
"The much tougher voluntary accreditation system is a victory for common sense over vested interests. It is now essential that Government delivers on these recommendations, implements the reforms rapidly and builds an alliance in Europe to stem the flow of new health and safety regulation."

 

Adam Marshall, director of policy and external affairs at the British Chambers of Commerce, added: "Lord Young's recommendations are both sensible and overdue. Businesses have long said that health and safety rules cannot be applied to hazardous environments and offices in the same way – and that there are too many burdens involved in allowing employees to work from home.
 
"These recommendations have the potential to reduce business costs and time-consuming bureaucratic burdens by managing risk in a far more sensible way. They will also give companies greater confidence to create jobs.
 
"Lord Young’s recommendations must be implemented swiftly and in full so that businesses, and the UK economy as a whole, can begin to benefit."

 

But the TUC has seen the review as a ‘grave disappointment’, TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "The review’s recommendations are predictable but a grave disappointment all the same.

"The report contains not a single proposal that will reduce the high levels of workplace death, injuries and illness. Every year in the UK over 20,000 people die prematurely as a result of their work and at any one time over two million people are suffering ill-health because of their jobs.  

"Yet instead of looking for ways of preventing people being killed and injured, the report uncritically accepts the myths and preconceptions surrounding health and safety, and focuses on dealing with a compensation culture which the Government accepts does not exist.


"Health and safety is not a throwback to a previous century, or an issue that only affects heavy industry. It is just as much an issue for offices and shops – workplaces that Lord Young dismisses as ‘low risk’, despite the evidence of high levels of work-related ill-health in these sectors.

"All workers and their families depend on health and safety to keep them safe and well. They also need assurances that, when workers are killed or made ill because of their work, the culprits will be brought to justice.

"This report is a missed opportunity to improve the UK’s workplace safety record and by failing to challenge the myths around health and safety it could actually make things much worse."