Busting health and safety myths
Labour & European Law Review Weekly Issue 265 19 April 2012
Concerned that “health and safety” is being used too often as a handy excuse to stop what are essentially sensible activities, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has set up an independent panel allowing people to ask for decisions to be scrutinised.
The idea is to make clear that health and safety is about managing real risks properly, not being risk averse and stopping people from getting on with their lives.
The Myth Busters Challenge Panel will look into complaints regarding the advice given by non-regulators such as insurance companies, health and safety consultants and employers and quickly assess if a sensible and proportionate decision has been made.
Anyone who thinks a decision or advice that they have been given in the name of health and safety is wrong, or disproportionate to what they are doing can complain to the panel, which will investigate and publish its findings on the HSE website.
It will be chaired by the HSE chair, Judith Hackitt, and supported by a pool of independent members including small businesses, trade unions and the insurance industry.
Given that 20,000 workers die in the UK every year, the establishment of the panel could hardly be more timely.
And that is why Thompsons is supporting a TUC and union-backed campaign to draw attention to the importance of health and safety laws.
Workers’ Memorial Day, held on 28 April every year all over the world, is when workers and unions organise demonstrations, vigils and other events to mark the day, which serves as a rallying cry to 'Remember the dead, but fight like hell for the living'.
This year’s day is being used to highlight the impact of government cuts to HSE funding, the fall in the number of workplace inspections and attacks by ministers on regulations that make workplaces safer.
The campaign comes after the government made changes to the number of injuries at work which employers must report, as well as its pledge to halve the number of current health and safety Regulations and reduce by a third the number of proactive inspections of premises.
For more information on the Myth Busters Challenge Panel, go to the HSE website.
For more information on Workers Memorial Day, go to the TUC website.