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The Lofstedt Review - a common sense approach to health and safety?

We recently surveyed members about health and safety and found most were broadly in favour of the common sense approach outlined in the Government’s Lofstedt Review. Find out what the review will mean for your business and what members think.

In November 2011, the Lofstedt Review was published – a review commissioned by the Government to look at issues concerning health and safety regulations.

The report recognised there were problems with the current system and recommended the following actions be taken:

  • The body of health and safety regulation should be streamlined
  • Enforcement activity must be redirected toward businesses where there is the greatest risk of injury or ill health
  • The status of pre-action protocols (the rules about how businesses approach disputes) should be clarified and liability provisions reviewed so that businesses that have acted reasonably can defend themselves.

What does it mean for your business?

Following the publication of the review, the Government accepted its recommendations and put together the following timetable:

By the summer of 2012

  • Health and safety guidance for small businesses from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), professional bodies and insurers should be much simpler and consistent.
  • Low-risk businesses that manage their responsibilities properly will no longer be visited by inspectors.

By 2013

  • Self-employed people whose work poses no threat to others will be exempt from health and safety law.
  • Approved Codes of Practice will give businesses clear practical examples of how to comply with the law.
  • Unnecessary regulations will be revoked.

By 2014

  • A simpler accident reporting regime should be in place. HSE will receive enhanced powers to drive consistent enforcement for all businesses.
  • Regulations will be consolidated by industry sector, making it clear which provisions businesses need to comply with.

What our members think

87% of members on our health and safety panel agreed with these aims, saying they represented a more common sense approach to health and safety.

They were particularly supportive of the plans to clarify ‘pre-action protocols' in order to support early settlement between parties. Businesses thought this would ensure health and safety rules based on the needs of the workplace, rather than on form filling.

However, members did have some concerns about more specific recommendations outlined in the report and opinions on plans for enforcement were mixed.

When asked if the HSE should have responsibility for local enforcement activity, 42% agreed while the other 57% disagreed or were unsure.

In general businesses felt the HSE had the skills and professionalism to take control from local authorities but there were real concerns about whether they would be too heavy handed.

Promoting the business benefits of health and safety

Members felt the business benefits of good health and safety practice and policies were greatest locally, notably amongst caterers, garages and manufacturers, with 48% stating they believed a good health and safety policy gave them a competitive advantage in their local area.

Businesses believed the advantages of a good health and safety policy were that it gave the perception the company was better organised than its rivals, it strengthened local reputation and enabled them to compete more effectively for tenders.

Good health and safety was also seen as useful in terms of reducing staff absences so that work could be completed in a timely and effective manner. In terms of support wanted by businesses, many believed the HSE should issue more free advice leaflets.

89% of members found the Forum's own Health and Safety Guide useful. Following these results, we will continue to push Government for a common sense approach to health and safety. If you would like to read our recommendations or the research in more detail, download a copy of our report.

Join a panel

Do you have any views on this article? Would you like to join a panel and help influence our policies? Our member panels are vital to helping inform our public affairs work and we would like to hear from you.

If you would like to share your views, join a panel here or email our Research Manager at thomas.parry@fpb.org.

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