Loftstedt, what it means for the people who enforce the law
Löfstedt: What it Means for the People who Enforce the Law James Taylor, Vice Chair, Prospect HSE Branch Tel: 07879 661820 Prospect in HSE Represents inspectors, scientists, specialists in many disciplines ~1,400 members of Prospect HSE staff are also represented by our colleagues in PCS with whom we work closely What does the Government Say? PM, Evening Standard Jan 2012 – ……..and there is something else we are doing: waging war against the excessive health and safety culture that has become an albatross around the neck of British businesses. – ………so one of the Coalition’s New Year resolutions is this: kill off health and safety culture for good. ……… ….. But killing off the health and safety nonsense for good is not something government can do alone. It needs a change in the national mindset. We need to realise, collectively, that we cannot eliminate risk and that some accidents are inevitable. We need to take responsibility for our actions and rely on common sense rather than procedure . Above all, we need to give British businesses the freedom and discretion they need to grow, create jobs and drive our economy forward… Or in other words… Allow employers to kill, injure and maim their employees and put members of the public at significant risk in the pursuit of profit. Löfstedt Main Conclusions – health and safety regulations are broadly fit for purpose – regulatory requirements are misunderstood and applied inappropriately Thus Streamline the body of regulation through consolidation Re-direct enforcement activity towards businesses where there is the greatest risk of injury or ill health; Re-balance the civil justice system by clarifying the status of pre-action protocols and reviewing strict liability provisions Result Coalition government is not going to let independent reviews they commissioned (Lord Young and Löfstedt) plus the ‘Red Tape Challenge’ get in the way of their political agenda! A War on Health and Safety! Profits before the health and safety of the workforce. What has happened in the HSE? 35% cut in budget 100s of jobs lost, more cuts likely Much less inspection – 11,000 less inspections per annum Whole sectors ‘exempt’ from proactive inspection: – health, education, prisons and emergency services; – public transport including buses and airports; – the post office and parcels delivery; – agriculture, docks, electricity generation and quarries; – manufacturing industries including light engineering, plastics and rubber, printing, electrical engineering Fee for Intervention – Material breach of H+S law = £charge – But NOT for LA enforced premises! NB: HSE does not make law – government does! HSE Infoline – Until last September anyone could ring up the HSE Infoline for advice and guidance and thousands did – every week. – Infoline is now closed. In order to prevent concerned people finding other numbers to ring, a team was set up to remove all phone numbers from the HSE website – Due to the large number of complaints there is now a phone number you can ring but the small team on the receiving end of calls is overwhelmed Government neglect? Some more examples Employment Medical Advisory Service – 1990s: over 50 occupational health doctors in HSE – Today: 4! Working Time Regulations – One Working Time Officer based in Bedford and covers North London, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Buckinghamshire, Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk Radiation – HSE’s radiation team consists of only 6 Specialist Inspectors for all hospitals, dentists, vets, airports, docks, industrial radiographers and all other industry (except nuclear) – Equates to approximately one inspector per 20,000 employers – But non-nuclear occupational exposure to radiation causes 90-280 deaths per year! The Human Cost – 3-4 people killed at work every week (not including those killed whilst driving at work) – Over 1 million people suffering work related ill health – 1000s dying every year from occupational cancers and other diseases. HSE Prospect Believes Löfstedt gave the coalition the ‘wrong’ answers Löfstedt has had little positive effect on the HSE HSE is in a fight for survival Good health and safety is seen by the coalition as a burden on business and a restriction on growth Poor health and safety results in misery for 1000s and the death of 100s every year Many employers only comply with health and safety law because they fear an inspection – Fewer inspections means less compliance and more unnecessary deaths, injuries and ill health. FFI will change the relationship between HSE and employers – It is unfair, won’t work and will transfer money from health and safety to government coffers.