Tag Archives: Professor Ragnar Löfstedt

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.


British Safety Council welcome Labour frontbencher Andy Slaughter MP

2 Sep

Alex Botha, the chief executive of the British Safety Council, earlier this week welcomed Andy Slaughter, the Labour MP for Hammersmith and frontbench spokesperson on justice, to the organisation’s head office. 

Andy was meeting new faces and renewing acquaintances with an organisation he has known well for the last thirty years. Alex took the opportunity to brief Andy on what the British Safety Council is doing to deliver its vision that no one should be killed or made ill by their work both through its advisory, audit and training services and its funding of basic qualifications in health and safety awareness. Much of the discussion focused on the review of health and safety legislation being led by Professor Ragnar Löfstedt and the reforms to legal aid currently progressing through Parliament on which Andy is leading for Labour in the House of Commons.

Andy reflected on the fifteen months he spent as a journalist at the British Safety Council on graduating from university in the early ‘80s before going on to qualify as a barrister.  This was at a time when the new regulatory framework for health and safety enacted in 1974 was starting to impact particularly in preventing injuries and ill health occurrences.  Andy worked with an impressive team of journalists producing a weekly newspaper and monthly magazine for members – including Charles Leadbeater who went on to work for the Financial Times and a former adviser to Tony Blair and Mark Wheeler who went on to become a senior press officer at HSE.

The British Safety Council’s relationship with Andy Slaughter our local MP is an important one focusing not only on major issues concerning health and safety regulation and access to justice but on other issues too concerning the local community and environment. 


Tangled up in red tape?

1 Jul

If you’ve ever been driven mad by the requirements of a set of health and safety regulations, feel the legal duties need amending or scrapping, or even simply wish to defend the UK’s existing legal framework for health and safety from attack, now is your chance, as the government’s much trumpeted Red Tape Challenge is focusing specifically on health and safety legislation for the next three weeks.

The Red Tape Challenge was launched in April by David Cameron, and aims to offer everyone – from members of the public and employees to business owners and community groups – the chance to have their say on regulations that affect their everyday lives. Specifically, the website seeks views on the 21,000 regulations currently in force in the UK in areas ranging from employment law to pensions, equalities to environmental protection, and the government is urging those with an interest in any of these regulatory issues to speak up and make their views known.

In the government’s own words: “We want to hear from everyone, whether you think a regulation is well designed and provides vital protections, or if you think a regulation in badly planned, badly implemented or simply a bad idea.” The aim, ministers add, is to “give a real boost to growth and personal freedoms” by scrapping some of the 21,000 regulations that are “getting in the way” of the public, businesses and community organisations.

Health and safety regulation is one of six “cross-cutting” themes on the Red Tape Challenge website and the public will be able to provide comments on health and safety laws throughout the whole of the Red Tape Challenge campaign, which is due to run for several months. However, from 30 June – 21 July there will be a special focus on health and safety laws to further encourage people to air their thoughts.

The website allows people to comment on all existing health and safety regulations – around 200 in total – and to make the process easier, these have been grouped into four different categories. These are: general health and safety; major hazard industries; higher risk workplaces; and dealing with hazardous chemicals and materials. Hundreds of comments have already been received on health and safety law, many of which can be read on the website.

Importantly, the government has promised to listen and act on what people say – indeed, every four months government departments have to comment on the six “cross-cutting” themes to ensure the review’s momentum is maintained – so this is an important opportunity for those interested in health and safety regulation to get their opinions across.

The health and safety aspects of the Red Tape Challenge are also closely linked with the independent review of health and safety legislation currently being carried out by Professor Ragnar Löfstedt as part of the government’s recently announced package of changes to Britain’s health and safety system. Like the Red Tape Challenge, the Löfstedt review seeks views on ways of combining, simplifying and reducing health and safety regulations, and responses to the health and safety aspects of the Red Tape Challenge will be fed to the professor for his consideration. In fact, Professor Löfstedt has been appointed as the ‘sector champion’ for health and safety throughout the Red Tape Challenge, acting as an intermediary between stakeholders in this area and the government and helping to direct the web-based debates and discussions.

British Safety Council members have already been asked to comment on the Löfstedt health and safety legislation review to help formulate our official response to the professor’s call for evidence, but the Red Tape Challenge website provides another forum for interested parties to make their voices heard in this area.

So, if you feel like getting something off your chest about health and safety law, take a look at the Red Tape Challenge website – your comments could make all the difference.

“The changing health and safety landscape”

13 Apr

The British Safety Council is putting the final touches to the programme for its conference, “The changing health and safety landscape”, taking place in London on 6 July. The conference will explore three main themes : the likely impact of the government’s plans for health and safety reform; an update of developments concerning health and safety law including implications of those developments for directors and senior managers, and; the likely implications for our member organisations of HSE budget reductions and the planned changes in HSE’s and local authority inspection priorities.

The conference, which will be held at the CBI’s Centre Point offices, will be structured to ensure that those attending have the opportunity to pose questions, concerns and share their experiences surrounding the challenges the management of health and safety poses for their respective organisations.  We have invited Professor Ragnar Löfstedt, who is leading the government’s review of our health and safety regulatory framework, to deliver the keynote presentation.  Confirmed speakers include : Steve Pointer, Director of Health and Safety EEF, Dan Shears, Health & Safety Adviser GMB union, Mark Tyler, Partner & Solicitor Shook, Hardy & Bacon ILLP, Louis Wustemann, Editor Health and Safety at Work and Lynda Armstrong, Chairman of the British Safety Council.  A number of our 2011 International Safety Award distinction winners will be contributing to the round table discussions.

Full programme and registration arrangements will appear on the Events pages of the British Safety Council website shortly.