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Health & Safety


Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill

Some time ago (you will probably remember), this government felt that we had an out of control health and safety culture and employed Lord Young to look into the matter.

The Prime Minister made it very clear what his position was when he made the following statement;

"Businesses are drowned in red tape, confusion and fear of being sued for even minor accidents. A damaging compensation culture has arisen..we simply cannot go on like this"... David Cameron.

Lord Young's conclusions came in the form of the "common sense, common safety document." In this document he concluded that in fact, we didn't have an out of control health and safety culture and that largely things did not need mending.

Clearly not happy with this response, the Government then employed a Professor Lofsted to look again at these issues and his conclusions were made public in the, "Reclaiming health and safety for all" document. In this he concluded that health and safety laws were "broadly fit for purpose."

These documents do not fit with Governments health and safety agenda and so they have placed a paragraph into the "Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill." This Bill is now in its last stages at the House of Lords.

It's possible effect.

When taking an employer to court for breach of health and safety, you either have to prove 'negligence' or a breach of 'statutory duty'. Traditionally the easier one to prove is 'statutory duty' as it doesn't have any defences. It is an absolute offence.

At the stroke of a pen the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill, will remove all breaches of "statutory duty," from the law books. This therefore leaves our members will the harder "negligence" claim to prove. Legal advice from Slater Gordon (formally RJW), is that a lot more claims will now fail and if we are honest, a lot will not even get of the starting blocks. Potentially this will have a huge impact on our members.

Update.

The labour party have picked up on this and instructed a 3 line whip against it, with the support of Plyiad Cymru. As a result it was defeated in the last day or so. The labour party saying that it would represent 'taking the country back to Victorian times'. However this is still a current and national threat; if the Commons decide it is to be put back into the Bill.

Mark Nigh

Deputy Health & Safety Lead

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