Simplify health and safety laws, don't abolish them, says Prospect

Simplify health and safety laws, don't abolish them, says Prospect

Health and safety legislation is neither excessive nor damaging to innovation, Prospect has told an independent review ordered by the government.

Headed by Professor Ragnar Löfstedt, the review is intended to simplify legislation and ease the health and safety burden on business. It is due to report in the autumn.

On behalf of the union’s health and safety representatives as well as 1,500 inspectors and other specialists employed by the Health and Safety Executive, Prospect states that it is not regulation but non-compliance and poor interpretation of the rules that should be of greatest concern.

While supportive of Professor Löfstedt’s evidence-based approach, the union is sceptical whether the findings will carry any weight given the wider deregulatory agenda being pursued by government.

Prospect’s Deputy General Secretary Mike Clancy said: “This latest review comes hot on the heels of Lord Young’s report into health and safety laws which proved to be a missed opportunity for genuine measures to tackle the negative media image of health and safety.

“Good Health and Safety, Good for Everyone – the Government’s latest strategy – provides further evidence of its deregulatory agenda given the removal, without consultation, of swathes of industry from HSE’s preventive inspection regime. This is an irresponsible tactic that is designed solely to meet the cuts targets set by the comprehensive spending review.”

Prospect’s evidence warns against restricting the focus of the Löfstedt review solely to workplace accidents and injuries rather than longer-term health issues. It says last year’s rise in fatal workplace accidents is “a reminder of the need to avoid complacency”.

Improvements to the system should be achieved through measures to make health and safety simpler, with clear, concise, sensitive guidance, rather than be driven by the pejorative premise that health and safety is a burden to business.

“Shoddy interpretation and application of the law is at the heart of much of the negative media attention when, in fact, poor employer behaviour and management neglect are the main causes of the toll on the workforce,” said Clancy.

To view the submission in full visit