Lord Young reviews health & safety

Lord Young, the Prime Minister’s adviser on health and safety law and practice, published his report Common Sense, Common Safety   His recommendations could have a huge impact on safeguarding culture and approach that will need to be adopted by organisations in the longer term. The PM and the Cabinet have accepted all of the recommendations put forward. His proposals include the following points:

  • Fears of facing legal action after failing to manage risk appropriately often encourage organisations to adopt an overcautious approach which can lead to excessive and unwarranted costs to business and the voluntary sector or to the unnecessary cancellation of events on health and safety grounds.  I recommend that processes are in place to ensure that assessments are proportionate.
  • In instances where local authorities have adopted an overzealous approach towards health and safety, I recommend that the public should be allowed an appeal process and appropriate recompense. The role of the Local Government Ombudsman may need to be strengthened.
  • The insurance industry also bears part of the responsibility for the over-interpretation of health and safety legislation. I have asked the industry to draw up a code of practice to prevent burdens falling disproportionately on small businesses and the voluntary sector.
  • This disproportionate approach has also had a negative impact on education in this country and has decreased the number of opportunities available to children to experience risk in a controlled environment, especially through school trips and competitive sport. My proposals aim to ease the administrative burden on teachers that the current health and safety regime has brought about to ensure that children do not miss out on important experiences.