Safety experts voice concerns following Bill review

“Disappointed” and “concerned” are the words used by a leading professional body today (19 December 2013) in response to plans to deregulate areas of health and safety.

The Joint Committee providing pre-legislative scrutiny of the Draft Deregulation Bill issued its report this morning, and the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) repeated its concerns that some self-employed people could be excluded from necessary health and safety legislation.

IOSH head of policy and public affairs Richard Jones said: “IOSH is disappointed and concerned that the Committee has not recommended the removal of the clause exempting certain self-employed from health and safety law, particularly given the serious concerns raised by IOSH and others during the inquiry.”

Since it was first suggested that the self-employed should be excluded from health and safety legislation, IOSH has strongly argued that this would be a backward step.

According to the Institution, changing the legislation in this way has the potential to cause confusion, lower standards, and increase the risk of injury and illness at work.

The review also looked at the implications of a new duty on regulators to have regard to the desirability of promoting economic growth. In its report, the Committee emphasises that such a duty must not undermine the independence of regulators, but has not recommended exempting the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) as IOSH advocated.

Mr Jones said: “It’s unnecessary to include HSE, which already takes a risk-based and proportionate approach and we are concerned it could be detrimental to its primary duty of enforcing health and safety law, protecting life and limb and preventing disaster.”

As part of its inquiry, the Committee reviewed evidence on the Bill’s proposals for new Ministerial powers to scrap laws deemed ‘no longer of practical use’.

Mr Jones commented: “We are pleased that, in-line with our written evidence, the Committee has recommended removal of the clauses on Ministerial powers to remove legislation that’s regarded ‘no longer of practical use’. Without this removal, valuable protective laws could have been inadvertently lost, as well as the independence and objectivity that are essential for public confidence.”

 

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