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Review, modify or repeal some of the regulations below the HSW etc. Act 1974

Comment 1st July 2010

 

In general I would like to see some of regulatory reform that downgrades the legislation made under the enabling act to approved code of practice status or transfer some of the responsibility to set compliance levels to standards bodies such as BSI or ISO instead, to enable businesses to have more freedom in how they go about fulfilling their duty of care. 

There has never been a prosecution brought under the DSE regulations. Indeed the six pack in general is largely a code of practice disguised as law with very little criminal impact. The real concern is litigation and this usually arises because a disgruntled employee sees an avenue for managing a grievance. Good employers provide good places to work. Approved codes of practice are effective in helping businesses meet their obligations. The strictures of binding regulation limit

Why does this matter?

Criminal legislation should be about preventing the worst consequence of a failure of a duty of care. Stronger legislation is needed in construction and agriculture where death and serious injury are still too common, not in low risk environments (I speak as a H&S Officer in an office based business).

 Most H&S prosecutions are undertaken using the HSW etc. Act 1974, which has been fit for purpose for many years. In the late 80's we began to encode European directives into UK law (and went to great time, trouble and expense to do so), but created regulations we either don't enforce, or which are ambiguous or clumsy. UK businesses in general (with a few exceptions) have great integrity and so abide by these regulations. European businesses interpreted directives such as 90/270 and 89/654 in different ways because they were minimum stndards.

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