The Health and Safety Executive have finally abandoned plans to support the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 with an Approved Code of Practice (ACoP). The reason given is that this could not be shown to add value to the regulations.
In 2014 a consultation process found two-thirds of respondents supported a new ACoP and at that time HSE agreed to look at producing a shortened version.
There are a number of documents from the Construction Industry Training Board that explain the regulations, and HSE currently takes the view that this is sufficient but has undertaken to review the situation again in 2017.
The House of Lords has amended the Trade Union Bill currently going through Parliament.
As drafted, it would have reduced the rights of public sector union representatives to have time away from their job to conduct duties such as dealing with health and safety issues. The proposal was at odds with the entitlement conferred by the Health and Safety etc at Work Act 1974.
The most recent draft of the proposed new international standard for occupational health and safety, ISO 45001, is unlikely to be released in the autumn as originally timetabled. This is because members of the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) committee voted narrowly against approval.
Under the rules, where more than 25% reject the draft it is sent back to committee for further revisions. The vote concluded mid- May and 28% of members were against acceptance. In due course a revised version of the Draft International Standard will be issued for consultation and a further ballot.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has reported that early 40% of employers do not discuss risks when they have been told that an employee is pregnant.
In a report entitled “Pregnancy and discrimination in the workplace, recommendations for change” the Commission urged the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to review guidance on issues such as raising awareness of employer responsibilities and the need to conduct and communicate effective risk assessments.
In the survey, 20% of workers reported that it was they rather than their employer who had identified particular risks. HSE and EHRC will work together to address the areas of concern.
Following a cut of over a third to its budget since 2010, the Health and Safety Executive has been advised of a further 12% reduction in funding to 2019-20 as the Government seeks to deal with the public sector deficit.
In response, HSE has drawn up a strategy called Helping Great Britain Work Well. The plan includes a commitment to 20,000 proactive inspections in the current financial year along with the inspection of up to 1,000 asbestos removal sites.
Last year, the Department for Work and Pensions asked the Health and Safety Executive to explore the opportunity of selling inspection services to larger employers, as a way to generate revenue.
It appears this idea has now been abandoned, or at least put on the back-burner, following discussions with several target organisations. The official line is that HSE found little enthusiasm from those employers who had been offered the chance to purchase inspection and consultancy services directly from the regulator.
The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has expressed concern that the Government’s Trade Union Bill, currently going through Parliament, will “dramatically curtail the time available to union safety reps to perform their functions and get trained”.
Hugh Robertson, the TUC head of safety, said: “The Bill says that any public sector employer who has at least one union health and safety representative, will have to record and publish all the time taken and any facilities provided. This is bureaucratic, pointless and will just mean that both employers and union representatives will have to spend a lot of time on paperwork. However, even more dangerous, is the proposal to allow ministers to restrict the rights to time off given to union health and safety representatives by amending the Health and Safety at Work Act.”
The Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine reports that a survey of 97,000 workers has found a strong relationship between reductions in health risk and increases in productivity. The study’s authors say that employers should seek to invest in a “culture of health” and that policies such as flexible working are factors contributing to lower health-related absences.
The Lifting Equipment Engineers Association (LEEA) is concerned that some employers are being tempted to cut costs by not conducting thorough examinations as frequently as required by the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998.
Equipment for lifting persons or accessories for lifting must be thoroughly examined by a competent person every six months, and annually for other equipment. LEEA says that it has recently been made aware that some users of lifting equipment are being incorrectly advised that money can be saved by extending intervals to 12 months for all items.
Separately, the Safety Assessment Federation (SAFed) has been in dialogue with the Health and Safety Executive about the risk of employers deciding to use in-house personnel to carry out examinations. Guidance document INDG 339 specifically provides advice on selection of a competent person and states that ‘it is not advisable for the same person who performs routine maintenance to carry out the thorough examination”.
The regulator has advised that any employer who allows or permits a sub-standard examination will be putting profit over safety and will be held to account.
The insurance industry is reporting that Government efforts to clamp down on whiplash injury claims have led to large numbers of new actions related to noise-induced hearing loss. This is said to be driven by unscrupulous claims management companies who are seeking out additional revenue streams.
A source has advised Post Magazine, the insurers’ journal, that one law firm has £12m of claims in the pipeline. Insurance firm Allianz have reported a claims explosion, with an increase of over 250% since 2010.