Professor Lofstedt concludes in his report that: “In general, there is no case for radically altering current health and safety legislation. The regulations place responsibilities primarily on those who create the risks, recognising that they are best placed to decide how to control them and allowing them to do so in a proportionate manner.
“There is a view across the board that the existing regulatory requirements are broadly right, and that regulation has a role to play in preventing injury and ill health in the workplace. Indeed, there is evidence to suggest that proportionate risk management can make good business sense.”
He adds: “Nonetheless, there are a number of factors that drive businesses to go beyond what the regulations require and beyond what is proportionate and I have made recommendations to tackle those which relate to regulations. These will enable businesses to reclaim ownership of the management of health and safety and see it as a vital part of their operation rather than an unnecessary and bureaucratic paperwork exercise.”
Key recommendations in the report include:
* Exempting self-employed workers “work activities pose no potential risk of harm to others” from health and safety law.
* That HSE should review all its ACoPs. The initial phase of the review should be completed by June 2012 so businesses have certainty about what is planned and when changes can be anticipated.
* That HSE undertakes a programme of sector-specific consolidations to be completed by April 2015.
* That legislation is changed to give HSE the authority to direct all local authority health and safety inspection and enforcement activity, in order to ensure that it is consistent and targeted towards the most risky workplaces.
* That the original intention of the pre-action protocol standard disclosure list is clarified and restated and that regulatory provisions that impose strict liability should be reviewed by June 2013 and either qualified with ‘reasonably practicable’ where strict liability is not absolutely necessary or amended to prevent civil liability from attaching to a breach of those provisions.
The report also recommends that a number of regulations are revoked or reviewed. Those earmarked for review include:
* Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981
* Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007
* Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR)
* Electricity at Work Regulations 1989
* Work at Height Regulations 2005
The report recommends that HSE should also be the Primary Authority for multi-site national organisations; and that all those involved should work together with the aim of commencing health and safety prosecutions within three years of an incident occurring.
It calls for the Government to work more closely with the European Commission and others, particularly during the planned review in 2013, to ensure that both new and existing EU health and safety legislation is “risk-based and evidence-based”.
The HSE said it welcomed the report. Judith Hackitt, the Chair of HSE, said:”Professor Lofstedt’s insightful report will go a long way to refocusing health and safety in Great Britain on those things that matter – supporting those who want to do the right thing and reducing rates of work-related death, injury and ill health.
“We must have a system of health and safety which enables employers to make sensible and proportionate decisions about managing genuine workplace risks.
“Simplifying and streamlining the stock of regulations, focusing enforcement on higher risk businesses, clarifying requirements, and rebalancing the civil litigation system – these are all practical, positive steps.
“Poor regulation – that which adds unnecessary bureaucracy with no real benefits – drives out confidence in good regulation.
“We welcome these reforms because they are good for workers and employers but also for the significant contribution they will make to restoring the rightful reputation of real health and safety.”
Another Government regulatory reform initiative, the Red Tape Challenge, will report in the New Year on further possible changes to health and safety regulation.