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Saturday20 December 2014

CPD 15: Health and safety reform

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The latest in our regular series of CPD modules looks at recent and upcoming changes to health and safety management. This module is sponsored by Zurich

How to take this module

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To take this module read the technical article below and click through to a multiple-choice questionnaire, once taken you will receive your results and if you successfully pass you will be issued automatically with a certificate to print for your records.

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The government’s reforms seek to focus health and safety enforcement on high-risk areas

INTRODUCTION

Over the last three years, the reform of health and safety has remained a key focus of the government’s bid to promote growth, reduce bureaucracy and address Britain’s developing compensation culture. As far back as 2008, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) issued its strategy for Great Britain, as a call to action to insurers to help promote good health and safety management and encourage a common-sense approach.

In June 2010, David Cameron appointed Lord Young to carry out a review of health and safety regulations and to seek ways of addressing the compensation culture. The recommendations made in the resulting report, “Common Sense, Common Safety”, published in October 2010, still form the basis for reforming the UK’s current system.

Since that time, however, there has been significant activity to take this agenda forward. In March 2011, the government published “Good Health and Safety, Good for Everyone”, a progress report on the implementation of Lord Young’s recommendations, as well as plans for further reform.

Within this, there were three key aspects:

  • To launch the Occupational Safety and Health Consultants Register (OSHCR) to address the issue of rogue health and safety consultants, and ensure that businesses have access to competent and ethical advice
  • To shift the focus of health and safety enforcement activity away from businesses that do the right thing to those in higher risk areas, and to concentrate on dealing with serious breaches of health and safety regulations
  • To seek to simplify health and safety legislation and guidance, in order to ease the burden on business.

On that last point, in March 2011, the government also set up an independent review of health and safety regulation under risk management specialist Professor Ragnar Löfstedt. His report, “Reclaiming health and safety for all: An independent review of health and safety legislation”, was published in November 2011. Löfstedt advised government that, in general, he found no case for radically altering current health and safety regulation.

Löfstedt recommended that self-employed workers whose work posed no potential risk of harm to others should be exempt from health and safety law

However, he did put forward a number of further recommendations. For example, he recommended that self-employed workers whose work posed no potential risk of harm to others should be exempt from health and safety law. He also recommended that to improve clarity on the requirements of business, the HSE should review all of its Approved Codes of Practice (ACoPs). Both of these issues have been the subject of recent public consultation by the HSE, with a further review on progress by Professor Löfstedt due to commence in November 2012 and to report early next year (although no further recommendations for additional reform are anticipated).

In addition, there have been further initiatives:

  • The Red Tape Challenge (focusing on health and safety), designed to promote public discussion about ways in which the aims of existing regulation can be met in the least burdensome way possible
  • The prime minister’s Insurance Summit aimed at tackling the compensation culture and perceived issues around obtaining insurance cover
  • The establishment of two challenge panels: the Independent Regulatory Challenge Panel investigates complaints regarding health and safety advice given by HSE or local authority inspectors which applicants consider to be incorrect or going beyond what is required to control the risk adequately; and theMyth Busters Challenge Panel investigates complaints regarding advice given by non-regulators such as health and safety consultants
  • The introduction of Fee For Intervention (FFI), the HSE’s cost recovery scheme. From 1 October 2012, those who break health and safety laws are liable for the recovery of HSE’s related costs, including inspection, investigation and enforcement action.

WHY ARE INSURERS INTERESTED IN HEALTH & SAFETY REFORMS?

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Prime minister David Cameron and Lord Young of Graffham at the launch of “Common Sense, Common Safety” in October 2010

Insurers underpin the compensation system, and play an enabling role in society - how many people would start a business if they knew they would be solely liable for the costs of accidents, fires or thefts? There is also a concern about compensation culture in all forms of activity - in the workplace, at sporting events, at activities carried out by charities and local authorities.

There have been certain challenges for insurers as the reform agenda has developed. One of the key recommendations put forward by Lord Young was for the insurance industry to publish a “code” of practice for health and safety for businesses and the voluntary sector. The aim of this was to reassure businesses and the voluntary sector that they have complied with appropriate levels of health and safety, and enable them to obtain insurance without employing the services of a health and safety consultant. The Association of British Insurers was to facilitate this.

How many people would start a business if they knew they would be solely liable for the costs of accidents, fires or thefts?

“Health & Safety for Businesses and the Voluntary Sector - Key Principles” was published by the ABI in November 2011. It sets out the insurance industry’s response to Lord Young’s recommendation, identifying a number of key principles that insurers look for when evaluating the management of health and safety. These include commitment and leadership by senior management; competent assistance; a structured approach; and the completion of suitable and sufficient risk assessments. Individual insurance companies may view these aspects in slightly different ways, but the document broadly outlines what insurers want to see.

Professor Löfstedt also put forward proposals that could have a bearing on Employers’ and Public Liability claims. In particular, he recommended that those health and safety regulatory provisions which impose strict liability should be either qualified with “reasonably practicable” where strict liability is not absolutely necessary, or amended to prevent civil liability from attaching to a breach of those provisions. A breach of statutory duty can have an implication on the outcome where causation can be demonstrated.

KEY MILESTONES

June 2009
HSE publishes “The Health and Safety of Great Britain: Be Part of the Solution”

January 2010
Lord Justice Jackson issues recommendations on reform of legal costs

June 2010
Prime minister David Cameron appoints Lord Young to carry out a review of health and safety regulations

CPD

A second review by Professor Ragnar Löfstedt is due to commence next month

October 2010
Cabinet Office publishes Lord Young’s report, “Common Sense, Common Safety”

March 2011
Government publishes “Good Health and Safety, Good for Everyone”, a progress report on the implementation of Lord Young’s recommendations
Independent review of health and safety regulation set up under Professor Ragnar Löfstedt

April 2011
Cameron launches Red Tape Challenge

November 2011
Professor Löfstedt’s report, “Reclaiming health and safety for all: An independent review of health and safety legislation”, is published

Insurance industry’s response to Lord Young’s report, “Health & Safety for Businesses and the Voluntary Sector - Key Principles”, published

January 2012
Independent Regulatory Challenge Panel launched

February 2012
Cameron holds Insurance Summit with insurance industry, consumer and business groups

May 2012
Second Insurance Summit held

June 2012
HSE begins consultation on its Approved Codes of Practice

August 2012
HSE launches Myth Busters Challenge Panel
HSE begins consultation on proposals to exempt some self-employed people from health and safety legislation

October 2012
HSE introduces cost recovery scheme, Fee for Intervention
Government set to publish detailed proposals for taking health and safety reform forward.

WHAT NEXT?

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Detailed proposals as to how this is to be taken forward are expected in October 2012, and will include legislation to remove the part of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 that imposes civil liability for breaches of statutory duty in relation to health and safety regulations.

All of this activity specifically relating to health and safety should be viewed against the backdrop of Lord Jackson’s reform of legal costs. In January 2010, he issued recommendations on civil litigation to address issues which have added to the costs faced by compensators and policyholders (including “no win, no fee” and “after the event” fees) and the pressures on both to settle claims rather than to fight them. It is understood that several of his recommendations are to be implemented in April 2013.

This reform agenda has evolved significantly and this is set to continue in the coming months. It is an issue worth following, as there are implications for employers and stakeholders alike. Insurers’ knowledge, insight and perspective will remain invaluable as the debate continues, particularly for those customers looking to add real value to their insurance provision.

 

 

 

 

 

How to take this module
To take this module read the technical article below and click through to a multiple-choice questionnaire, once taken you will receive your results and if you successfully pass you will be issued automatically with a certificate to print for your records.

CPD BTN

About Zurich
For more than 80 years, Zurich has been helping customers to identify, manage and control business risks, including occupational health and safety. In the UK, Zurich employs an extensive team of risk specialists - part of a wider global Zurich Risk Engineering Network, operating in 32 countries.

 

 

 

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