Tag Archives: Lynda Armstrong

The importance of risk and hazard education: Professor Löfstedt and the British Safety Council contribute to the debate

21 Oct

The Centre for Socio-Legal Studies at the University of Oxford, with the support of the British Safety Council, convened a workshop in October to examine a number of key issues concerning our knowledge and thinking on hazard and risk and how our policy, law makers and educators approach these issues. The panellists included Professor Ragnar Löfstedt of Kings College, Mark Tyler the leading health and safety lawyer and partner at Shook Hardy & Bacon, Lynda Armstrong, chair of the trustees of the British Safety Council and David Bench, HSE director with responsibility for science and chemical regulation.

Professor Löfstedt’s presentation focused on a paper he had published earlier this year, Risk versus Hazard – How to Regulate in the 21st Century, in which he explored the history of the risk versus hazard debate, focusing in particular on the regulatory approaches adopted by different EU member states in relation to two hazardous substances. Professor Löfstedt argued that there was no clear consensus across EU countries as to when risk or hazard considerations should be the basis of regulatory decision making.

In the recommendations set out in the paper Professor Löfstedt argues: “If European regulators are to be successful in increasingly basing health and environmental regulations on risk assessments then there is a need for the public and stakeholders to actually understand what risk assessment is, something that is clearly not the case at the present time. One way around this would be to push for the introduction of risk assessment as part of the science curriculum, in the final years at school as well as encouraging European universities to teach risk assessment as part of the undergraduate and graduate curriculums …”

Lynda Armstrong, in her panel contribution, agreed with the importance of risk education: “We believe it is time for a sea change in our approach to competence building around risk with a focus on instilling the necessary knowledge and behaviours in people at an early age. The British Safety Council will continue its work of helping young people develop an understanding of health and safety risks and appreciate the behaviours they should adopt in readiness for when they go to work. The benefits are twofold: firstly a better understanding of working safely will discourage inappropriate risk aversion; and second, these young people, the future workforce, will be our champions and will be key to ensuring we build our knowledge and use it wisely concerning hazard and risk.” Lynda also made clear where the British Safety Council stood concerning the effectiveness of our current regulatory framework: “We subscribe strongly to the view that our legislative approach to health and safety, carefully balancing the regulation of hazards and risks, is broadly the correct one and working effectively.”

Professor Löfstedt also gave an indication that the report of the independent panel he is leading on the review of our health and safety regulatory framework is likely to be published at the end of November.

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British Safety Council submits further evidence to the Löfstedt review of health and safety legislation

2 Aug

Following the meeting in early July between Professor Ragnar Löfstedt and Lynda Armstrong our chair of trustees and Alex Botha our chief executive the British Safety Council took the opportunity to submit further evidence in response to issues discussed at that meeting.  Alex Botha wrote to the DWP review team providing further evidence on issues that go to the heart of health and safety legislation and regulation.  In his letter he set out that our recent survey of our members had revealed that six out of ten of our member organisations considered our present system of health and safety regulation “about right” while noting too that a third of our members, however, considered the system “too heavy”.

 Our chief executive set out our views on the role and contribution of external independent third party audit and the value and benefits it can bring.  We also highlighted those sectors where trade associations share information concerning health and safety management and performance data.  The business case for good health and safety also came up in the meeting between Professor Löfstedt and the British Safety Council.  We were able to identify in our further evidence the wealth of research undertaken both in Great Britain and the EU setting out the evidence of the business benefits of good health and safety and on the cost of workplace injuries and ill health occurrences.

Our contribution to supporting the entry level qualification in health and safety, made possible by the support of our members, and its importance in educating young people in risk awareness in preparation for going to work was also spelt out. As with our earlier evidence concerning the mass and complexity of two hundred sets of regulations we provided further evidence concerning the complexity surrounding the 55 sets of approved codes of practice currently in place. We recommended that work should be undertaken to explore the feasibility of rationalising codes of practice.

 The closing date for the submission of evidence has now passed.  We, like our members, await the outcome of the deliberations of independent review team with great interest.  The British Safety Council evidence will be available on our website towards the end of August.

News from Prospect Conference

18 Mar

Lynda Armstrong, Chair of the British Safety Council, presented the keynote address earlier this week to the Prospect trade union’s ‘Promoting health’ conference. Lynda, in her introduction, identified a number of factors that were contributing to possibly significant changes in our health and safety landscape. The agenda for change set out in Common Sense, Common Safety, the government’s plans for further reform, the significant reduction in HSE and local authority resources available for enforcement, together, pose serious questions about the future of health and safety regulation. She said it was vital that organisations like Prospect, the British Safety Council and their respective members and other stakeholders work together to ensure that we do not lose sight of our primary goal, that is, to ensure our workplaces and workers are healthy and safe.

The central focus of the conference was on work, health and well-being against a backdrop of economic and organisational change. Sarah Page, Prospect’s health & safety officer, highlighted the impact that change, if not managed effectively, could have on the health of workers and the finances of organisations. The conference enabled those attending to share their experiences and hear from the experts as Dr Paul Lichfield, chief medical officer, BT Group on successful initiatives to improve mental well-being. Lynda Armstrong also highlighted the work done by E.On UK, a British Safety Council member, through health surveillance to detect and address early signs of work related ill health.