Lord Young’s report “Common Sense, Common Safety”, published on 15 October 2010, seeks to simplify and improve health and safety regulation by promoting a common sense approach in relation to non-hazardous activities (e.g. in offices, shops, and classrooms) and address a “compensation culture” by moving away from the low risk ‘no win, no fee’ claims, with the aim of freeing up businesses and other institutions from “unnecessary bureaucratic burdens and the fear of having to pay out”.
Lord Young’s recommendations include:
- The UK taking the lead in ensuring that EU health and safety regulation is not overly prescriptive.
- The current raft of health and safety legislation being consolidated into a single set of accessible regulations, with clear guidance.
- The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR) being reviewed to determine whether a better approach can be introduced to provide a national picture of workplace accidents.
- Simplified risk assessment procedures without the need for full risk assessments by health and safety officials but with assistance provided by the HSE. Employees working at home and self employed people would be exempt.
- A simplified claims procedure for personal injury claims under £10,000 and clarification that people should not be held liable for consequences due to well-intentioned voluntary acts on their part.
- A requirement that all consultants be accredited to professional bodies as soon as possible, and a directory of accredited consultants produced.
- Insurance companies being engaged in consultation to produce a code of practice to ensure that necessary or worthwhile activities are not curtailed through prohibitive health and safety requirements.
Hazardous industries such as construction, chemicals, manufacturing and farming would be untouched by the report.
Lord Young recommends that the incentives for claiming compensation have to change, in order to shift the perceptions and encourage a more common sense approach to health and safety, focusing on the proportionate management of risk, which for business will mean a movement away from costly insurance policies for protection and a clearer understanding of how to deal with health and safety matters.
The report has however received some criticism, some arguing that the “compensation culture” is a myth created by the media, that none of the recommendations will actually reduce workplace accidents and deaths, and that, with the budget cuts being imposed by the Government, the funds may not be available to put the recommendations into practice.