Budget 2012: Clarity Needed Over ‘Bold And Worrying’ Health And Safety Plans

Reaction To Proposed Changes To Safety Regulations


Lawyers who act for victims seriously injured in accidents at work caused by safety failings have called for the Government to provide clarity on its plans announced in the Budget to ‘scrap or improve’ 84 per cent of health and safety regulation.

Significant changes to current legislation were unveiled by ministers yesterday (March 21st), including giving the Health and Safety Executive authority to direct all local authority inspections and enforcements, as well as changing first aid regulations to remove the need for the HSE to approve training and qualifications.

David Urpeth, national head of workplace injury at Irwin Mitchell, said the plans may be initially welcomed by many businesses but urged the government and the HSE to ensure that any changes are carefully considered as good health and safety is also good business.

He outlined: “Health and safety legislation has played a huge role in improving standards across all industries and, in recent years, there have been significant improvements seen in figures related to injuries and fatalities at work.

“However, despite the improvements, we still receive a huge number of enquiries from seriously injured people who have had their lives turned upside down by accidents at work and who need funds to access vital care and rehabilitation services.

“So, the suggestion that more than three-quarters of the regulation which has helped employers to achieve this can simply be removed or should be amended is a bold and very worrying statement from the Government.

“The preciseness with which the figure of 84 per cent has been put forward indicates that ministers have a clear idea on how they can make changes. What we want to see now is a full breakdown of the suggested changes and how they intend to implement them over the next couple of years.

“A ‘common sense’ approach to health and safety is the way forward, but it is also vital that the welfare of workers remains a fundamental priority for employers and that those who fail to protect their staff are rightly held to account.”

"It needs to be remembered that a good health and safety record can mean more business as such matters are being increasingly considered by prospective customers."