Health and safety cuts will put employees at risk

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22nd Mar 2011
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Cuts of a third to the number of automatic health and safety inspections from April will put employees at risk and inevitably lead to more workplace injuries and deaths, lawyers have warned.

 
The Work and Pensions Minister Chris Grayling announced yesterday that automatic inspections would now take place only at high risk installations such as energy, nuclear sites and chemical plants. Ending the practice at sites in medium and low risk sectors will reduce the number of inspections by about 11,000 each year, he said.
 
The coalition government already plans to cut the number of injuries that need to be documented by no longer requiring employers to report episodes that result in staff being absent from work for up to a week.
 
“The purpose of health and safety regulation is to protect people at work and rightly so. But we need common sense at the heart of the system, and these measures will help root out the needless burden of bureaucracy. This will help us make Britain a more growth-focused, entrepreneurial nation,” Grayling attested.
 
But Rob Bhol, managing director of personal injury claims specialist DBS law, disagreed. “In the last 12 months, we have already seen an increase in our personal injury business coming from workplace accidents. We believe this is a result of a more relaxed attitude to health and safety by employers,” he said.
 
If the coalition government adopted an “after the horse has bolted” approach to accident prevention, however, it would “inevitably lead to more people being badly hurt and even killed at work”, Bhol added.
 
Moreover, post-accident fines for those firms that failed to conform with health and safety requirements were “unlikely to encourage good practice” but were instead more likely to foster a “cover-up culture with accident victims being victimised”, he warned.
 
Grayling also announced a long-term review into all workplace health and safety legislation, which will be chaired by risk management specialist Professor Ragnar Loefstedt from King’s College London. The findings will be published in the autumn and are intended to build on the work undertaken by Lord Young, the Prime Minister David Cameron’s former health and safety adviser.
 
A new online service called ‘Health and Safety Made Simple’ has likewise been set up to provide small and low risk businesses with guidance and support. An occupational health and safety consultants register has also been created in a bid to eliminate cowboy operators.

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