London, 18 October 2010 – Lord Young’s review of the operation of UK health and safety laws and the growth of the compensation culture has been welcomed by Croner, the UK’s largest provider of workplace information, software and services (www.croner.co.uk), part of Wolters Kluwer, the global information services group.
Nasar Farooq, Safety Technical Manager at Croner, comments on the Young report’s findings, saying: “Lord Young has correctly identified the need to free UK SMEs from unnecessary bureaucratic burdens and to regain an attitude of common sense around health and safety legislation and particularly, sensible risk assessment.”
However, Farooq does have concerns that some of Lord Young’s recommendations may have a negative impact on businesses: “The suggestion that all health and safety legislation should be consolidated into a single set of regulations sounds helpful at first but there is a real risk that it will lead to further confusion and over-cautious interpretation. The current guidelines apply to different types of risk in various working environments and to consolidate these the Government may be forced to generalise to such an extent that SMEs will be even more confused about how to comply.
“In addition, the recommendation that RIDDOR reports should mirror the new Fit Note Scheme, by which employees need to be absent from work for seven days (rather than three) before a report to the HSE is filed, will ease the administrative burden on businesses but may also lead to inaccurate health and safety statistics in the coming months and years.”
There are also signs that the report could lead to an increased burden for local authorities, says Farooq: “Local authorities will be aware that they will face an increased administrative burden, with more paperwork to be completed and a risk of financial penalties if the Ombudsman feels that they have been overzealous in their interpretation of legislation.”
Croner is particularly supportive of Lord Young’s calls to crack down on ‘cowboy’ health and safety professionals and improve the quality of advice given to organisations, especially small and medium sized firms.
Declaring an interest in such a recommendation, Farooq explains: “As a health and safety adviser employing nearly 100 qualified consultants, Croner knows only too well the confusion that can be caused by the conflicting – and often unprofessional – counsel on offer. However, while we work with clients to reduce the health and safety burden and ensure that there is a proportionate interpretation of legislation and best practice, many unqualified advisers are taking advantage of the fear and confusion around health and safety to line their pockets. We look forward to the implementation of Lord Young’s recommendation that all health and safety consultants are to be professionally qualified and accredited.”
Farooq concludes: “Overall, this report is a welcome reminder that although health and safety legislation has been successful in reducing the number of accidents and fatalities in the workplace, a change of perception is needed. Businesses and the general public must have confidence in a system with a balanced and proportionate attitude to risk. However, there are still some difficult questions to be asked and all parties must work together to ensure that Lord Young’s recommendations are well thought-through before they are implemented.”
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Notes to editors
Croner, a Wolters Kluwer business (www.croner.co.uk), is the UK’s leading provider of workplace information, software and services. It has served HR, health & safety and business professionals since 1948. Wolters Kluwer is a market-leading global information services company with annual revenues (2009) of €3.4 billion and maintains operations in over 40 countries across Europe, North America, Asia Pacific and Latin America. Wolters Kluwer is headquartered in Alphen aan den Rijn, the Netherlands. Its shares are quoted on Euronext Amsterdam (WKL) and are included in the AEX and Euronext 100 indices.
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