All Party Parliamentary Group on Health and Safety

22 Jun

 The British Safety Council attended the meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Health and Safety on 21 June 2011.

Gordon McDonald of the HSE spoke on the issue of fee for intervention, which is a central, and probably the most immediate, part of the government’s planned legislation. This would be in relation to the recovery of costs of effort where there is evidence of non-compliance.

McDonald reported that HSE has been undertaking some early consultation with a range of stakeholders on the proposals, and will continue to do so into July. Some have already been identified. Local authorities reportedly expressed a “mixed view” about cost recovery – with many wondering whether they would be given discretion to decide whether to levy a cost recovery notice, or not. The HSE will be seeking clarification from the Lofstedt review on this issue. It will also be seeking to ensure that concerns about inspector consistency are met. There has also been concern that inspectors may in some cases be motivated by motives related to revenue generation , rather than pure health and safety issues. The HSE will be looking to allay such concerns as well. Hopefully, such issues will be tackled by the 12-week consultation exercise that the HSE is launching in July 2011. He emphasised that the consultation will not be about the policy “as that was taken as read” but rather focus on how to make it workable. It was anticipated that they will be doing a dry-run of the charging system October through to December 2011, before implementation in April 2012.

Additionally, he identified three further areas that will be targeted in relation to cost recovery, though these were not as immediate. One area includes cost recovery in hazard sectors already not covered by such an approach, such as mining, pipelines and explosives.. Another is in relation to charges associated with land-use planning where HSE is a statutory consultee, which will need to be addressed through the planning legislation. A third area is regarding costs to account for statutory advice when sought by parties, such pre-application advice to developers or to foreign governments. When raised as a question, MacDonald responded that currently it is unclear whether the revenue from such services will feed back into the HSE.

Andrew Miller, MP, spoke about his views on the Lofstedt Review, on which he will be the Labour representative. According to Miller, Professor Lofstedt was keen to ensure that his role would be independent before he took the post, an encouraging sign. What Miller found somewhat less encouraging was the mass of statutory instruments up for “simplification.” Some 200 SIs in 30 workplace categories are listed in the call for evidence – and all need to be dealt with in detail. Miller expressed fears that this would not be possible, and that pressures to over-simplify could prevail.

Nevertheless, he recognised the opportunity to address those regulations that may be out of date and the potential to consolidate some, while cautioning that reducing the amount of regulations might give some “numbers game satisfaction” without affecting real change that can be felt by businesses and workers.

 

Blog by:
Sam Urquhart, Interim campaigns and engagement manager

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