According to the business support organisation’s recent review they were particularly supportive of plans to clarify ‘pre-action protocols’ (the rules about how businesses approach disputes so that businesses that have acted reasonably can defend themselves) in order to support early settlement between parties. Businesses thought this would ensure health and safety rules based on the needs of the workplace, rather than on form filling.
However, members did have some concerns about more specific recommendations outlined in the report and opinions on plans for enforcement were mixed. When asked if the HSE should be provided with the authority over local enforcement activity, 42% agreed while the other 57% disagreed or were unsure.
Just over half the panel members wanted to see both business size and seriousness of breach taken into account in the new ‘Fee for Intervention’ proposals. Overall, two in three businesses want the size of business taken into account and four in five want the seriousness of the breach to impact on the level of cost recovery.
In general businesses felt the HSE had the skills and professionalism to take control from local authorities but there were real concerns about whether they would be too heavy handed.
No business felt that the recommendations overall would have a negative impact but in terms of support, many believed the HSE should issue more free advice leaflets.