Richard Evens: A certain amount of regulation is essential to ensure safety and wellbeing at work

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At the end of last month, the government announced plans to reduce unnecessary health and safety regulation for businesses. Whilst I’d welcome this move, it’s worth remembering that a certain amount is essential to ensure the safety and wellbeing of businesses, their customers and their employees.

According to the HSE’s most recent statistics, over 170 people died at work in the last 9 months of 2010, an increase after an all time low the previous year. With a growth in the number of unnecessary deaths, this only acts as a reminder that this matter needs to be taken seriously not only by government, but by businesses and their employees.

Essentially, health and safety guidelines are key to lowering accident and death rates. Whilst too much regulation can be viewed as a burden, without it we could be faced with an increase in the number of unnecessary deaths every year, with staff and businesses exposed to a record number of health and safety mishaps.

Regulation acts as a guidance to employees, and whilst it can seem daunting when faced with a list of requirements that the business must meet, when implemented correctly it can improve the safety and wellbeing of staff. With companies worried about potential legal action and accidents in the workplace, there are instances where health and safety guidance is misinterpreted and taken to the extreme. It’s right that businesses want to protect themselves and their employees, but they don’t always know what to do and how to implement these changes.

The idea of making the process simpler should enable organisations to meet health and safety legislation without overloading on red tape. What do you think about the Government’s plans to reduce health and safety regulation? Is it a welcome move for businesses or do you think it will leave more employees at risk? I’d be interested to know your thoughts.

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About Richard Evens

Richard Evens, Commercial Training Director, St John Ambulance

Richard is Commercial Marketing Director at St John Ambulance, the nation's leading first aid organisation and market leader in workplace first aid training. Responsible for training programmes and educational standards, Richard has been involved in consultation with the HSE since the early development of new guidance for the content and structure of workplace first aid training. He has liaised widely with the HSE and other stakeholders to apply the collective expertise in first aid to the new guidance, becoming a board member of the First Aid at Work Council which was created during this process.

Before joining the charity sector 10 years ago in a retail development role for Oxfam, Richard worked in marketing and logistical roles with Shell and Total Oil. He lives in north west London spending time with his family, trying to keep up with two energetic young children.

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