Sweeping Health and Safety under the carpet
Partner Marcus Weatherby laments the government cuts that look like a move back to the ‘bad old days’ in attitudes towards health and safety…
Recent cuts within the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have affected its ability to provide any real advisory services or to run safety campaigns.
It’s now no longer possible to phone and report an accident to the HSE unless it’s a major one. So it would seem that the role for HSE in future will be confined to death and life-threatening injuries only.
What does cutting the funding to HSE do to their mission statement of ‘the prevention of death, injury and ill health to those at work and those affected by work activities’? We might expect, instead, an increased onus on industry or business to look out for health and safety. But we’d be wrong.
Because employers will soon only have to report accidents causing employees seven days’ absence to the HSE, rather than the current three. Which will reduce the imperative for employers to learn from near misses. And foster a less pro-active approach to health and safety generally.
Small accidents can often provide a warning to employers to tighten up procedures before something more severe happens. And we ignore these at our peril.
The overall tenor of the changes imposed on the HSE would seem to be one of ‘stopping health and safety being a nuisance that gets in the way of making money.’
It’s a shame that the Government has not applied the same sharp focus on establishing an insurance fund of last resort for employer liability claims where the employer no longer exists, is uninsured, or where the insurer cannot be traced.
At least then there would be a measure of balance in their reforming zeal.