The government has promised to conduct a review of health and safety laws in a study led by Lord Young. Tim Hill, partner in the Health and Safety group at international law firm Eversheds comments:
“The news that Lord Young will review both the ‘application’ and ‘perception’ of health and safety is very positive news: the key problem in recent years is that the phrase has become a by-word for bureaucracy and fear of compensation claims, and has nothing at all to do with the fundamental concept of health and safety at work. Lord Young is absolutely right to remind the public that workers’ welfare and safety is paramount.
“Health and Safety is about assessing a risk and then formulating an appropriate and balanced response to that risk; it is not about just saying “no”.
If organisations are able to design, build and operate major manufacturing plants or chemical facilities with due regard to keeping their staff and the public safe, then there is clearly no problem with allowing children to play conkers or residents to hang England flags in their street. Provided that is that they have considered the potential risk and decided it is either so remote as to be acceptable, or can be mitigated by straight forward common sense actions.
“The UK has one of the lowest accident rates in Europe, no doubt due to the application of robust and practical health and safety legislation over the last 35 years. The key issue for this review to address will be how to change the public and media perception of health and safety, rather than removing perfectly sensible legislation which risks more people being killed and injured in the longer term.”