Draft/Consultation documents have been published by the HSE for proposed changes to asbestos regulations in the UK. Anyone interested can see the Consultation document here at the HSE web site or download a copy below
From October there'll be another revision to RIDDOR. After moving the goal posts last year - the old 3 days off work due to an accident became 7 days off work - they've now simplified (reduced) the number of Occupational Diseases that need reporting and also simplified the "major accidents" that need reporting.
On the whole probably a good thing - I will of course have one of my moments in 2 years time when the HSE/Government proclaim major improvements in safety because the number of reportable accidents is lower than in 2012 - cynic me?
In many ways RIDDOR was set in the past so simplification is good for us all - but I do recognise that any past statistics are of dubious value to compare going forwards.
You can download a free draft of the new Regs/Guidance here - HSE Downloads
In some ways it feels like beating a puppy .......... but I do have to say something. The HSE set up a myth busters panel a year or so back of the great and good to comment on the raft of "elf and safety stories" doing the rounds. It all sounds like a good idea but given in general you can look at the stories and sum up the response in a phrase involving sex and travel quite why it needs a panel of the great and good to state the obvious is beyond me.
Its just an expensive way of getting to they're an idiot - except at no point does anyone say someone was an over zealous muppet with no brains and a clip board. Or maybe that's why I never get asked for an opinion.
I know its well meant - but equally if you want to manage the press and their portrayal of health and safety the rather nice but dull output here is never going to make more than a paragraph near the end of the article. Come on I know the HSE are never going to say "which idiot came up with that" (now that would get a headline) but they really need to learn how the world and the press work.
Its more Deregulation......... or window dressing depending on your viewpoint. The safety community are no doubt making a lot of noise and the government is spinning it like they've re written the Magna Carta.
Now either I'm stupid or its a lot of noise about nothing. The whole draft of the Deregulation Bill can be found here.
It changes a few words with regards to section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act - I still fail to understand how that passes for Deregulation in real terms rather than simply a slight updating of the language. Small firms undertaking low risk work never had to create the mountains of paper that seem the norm for many now - mind you most the paper we seem to create was never legally required for larger companies either.
Low risk companies with less than 5 employees were exempt under the Law from having to create formal recorded risk assessments and policy. The fact is most of the demand for written safety records is driven by clients or Insurers (and given an Insurance Inspection is generally a cut and paste job ....... ooops cynical me). They still have a duty to ensure the safety of their operations - including their sub contractors.
Simple low risk work is just that and shouldn't need to be a burden - however do remember small companies can do higher risk work and will always need to be able to show they are safe and competent. Look at the number of prosecutions linked to people falling through roofs - its so often a small company.
Somehow whenever we have an announcement about "deregulation" my eyes roll followed by mumbling and shaking my head.
The HSE and Department for Work and Pensions recently announced it was simplifying the rules on work experience - which actually its not. Its issued some clarifications that to be honest were blindingly obvious from the very beginning - okay sorry I forgot Insurers and Health and Safety got involved and what was obvious became murky, opaque and even more paper descended on us all.
As with all deregulation its a lot of noise to satisfy the Tabloids. Poor advice and risk assessment is the problem - always has been - always will be. Parts of me see the cynical sell through fear activities as a root cause and at other times the Corporate fear of "liability" - but the drive towards Deregulation is fundamentally misdirected.
Risk assessment has always been simple - equally for Young People risk assessment is simple - yes they need to be considered as they're far less experienced and lacking the skills of the workplace. This may mean ensuring they don't undertake high risk below the age of 18 but in many cases the RA will simply be ensuring they are supervised at all times and that they get the same protection as other people doing the work. Sometimes it may be a bit more complicated.
But a good RA will cover most of your staff, yes you should consider what extra risks groups such as young people, those with disabilities or pregnant staff may encounter and what additional precautions are needed - but it remains true that a good well written RA will cover 99% of your needs and not need redoing bar periodic reviews so long as the work remains constant
Chris Elliott is a health and safety advisor with a wide range of experience. Working with a range of clients from local business to high profile TV shows.