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The Scottish Perspective

22 Sep

 

Matthew Holder, head of campaigns and engagement at the British Safety Council visited Portcullis House last week to meet shadow secretary of state Ann McKechin (Labour, Glasgow North). Ann had made a valuable contribution to the House of Commons Scottish Affairs Committee’s  enquiry into health and safety Scotland and the British Safety Council was keen to discuss how we could work together on issues.

Having a background as a solicitor, Ann was very knowledgeable about the Scottish legal system when it came to non-compliance and imposing fines for breaches of health and safety law. In sum, she had a concern that the Scottish courts weren’t really set up to impose sufficient fines and act as enough of a deterrent to those who want to avoid making the investment to follow the law. This was in interesting contrast to the high level of debate around health and safety in Scotland, with few of the ‘silly’ myth stories that feature in the English press. Ann felt this was because there was a general recognition by the public that H&S is serious and worthy of public debate and consideration.

She was very interested in the British Safety Council’s schools programme. She explained that her constituency of Glasgow North did have social problems, with schools that do need help. She offered to help in any way that she could to help the British Safety Council engage schools and  provide free training for school children in the entry level qualification. She was also very interested in our Globe and Sword of Honour Awards that recognise excellence in managing health, safety and environmental pressures. She wanted to stay in touch and be part of our efforts to engage parliamentarians in order to affect the broader changes we want to make.

HSE Board: Decisions on RIDDOR etc

17 Aug

http://www.hse.gov.uk/aboutus/meetings/hseboard/2011index.htm

A substantial discussion with some significant decisions. At the top of the list, the HSE Board agreed to change the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases, Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR), following a consultation earlier in the year. Under the current system, employers have to report to HSE if a worker is off work for more than 3 days due to a work-related accident/ill health. The change will make this over 7 days. It will also move the obligation to report to 15 days from the date of the accident (from 11 currently).

The Board discussion highlighted differences of opinion. Although response to the consultation (776 responses, including by the British Safety Council) was 2:1 in favour of the change, some thought that the change will have little impact. The duty to record any 3 day accident under RIDDOR remains, and some thought that little was gained by moving reporting to 7 days – the burden is slight, and useful information on accidents causing up to 7 days absence will be lost, diminishing the quality of stats on health and safety. In contrast, others highlighted that this is the view of the majority who were consulted and many SME’s don’t have a dedicated health and safety officer – the change will be significant for them. It was also pointed out that there was strong support for the change by health and safety professionals and safety reps.

In the end the Board’s decision was to support the change to RIDDOR (leading to change in the law in April 2012). However there will be a clear message to employers that recording is vital (and remains for over 3 day), and that HSE will be watching closely for any negative impact and review the decision in 2 years.  

Other highlights included a discussion on the latest fatality statistics for 2010/2011 – 171 fatalities (provisional), against 147 from 2009/2010. Although graphs show the trend is downward, some members pointed out that when adjusted for numbers of people in work at the time of recession, the statistics have flat-lined. Re-emphasis is needed to drive further improvements (though there remains a budget freeze on HSE campaigns). These numbers need to be put in the context of far greater deaths caused by occupational disease (exposure to dust, asbestos etc), and the Board will consider a further paper on this in November. Plus, the sectors in the spot-light – agriculture, waste/recycling, construction and manufacturing – confirms its strategic priorities.

Other agreements: a high level summit for leaders in waste and recycling by the end of the year to drive improvements in a challenging environment, marked by high levels of migrant and agency workers. Construction is making progress, but more needs to be done on occupational health issues – the good work of the ODA needs to be publicised and spread; and HSE will report to the Board on its review of Construction Design and Management (CDM) Regulations.