Last weeks Budget has promised to save businesses £350million in red tape lessening the financial burden and encouraging growth. Among other things George Osborne has promised to implement in full the recommendations in Lord Young’s Health and Safety report.
Designed to save businesses money I fear these reforms could shatter the UK’s enviable Health and Safety record and lead to an increase in accidents in the workplace.
The new proposals will require subjective judgement on whether or not a job is high risk or not and whether certain health and safety laws will apply to it. An obvious problem here is that working environments which are generally considered to be low risk may in fact be hazardous if they are in a state of disrepair.
If the courts are to decide on a workplace’s safety based purely on the nature of the work involved what protects an employee from serious injury from for example a broken lift or faulty wiring?
The Health and Safety Executive will be faced with uncertainty due to the lack of objective criteria and by default so will the businesses who are obliged to follow their directives. Negligent employees may try to cut corners thus endangering their staff and attempt to use ignorance as an excuse in the event of an accident.
Personally I’d favour a safer more inclusive approach to Health and Safety Law under which all businesses have a duty to care for their staff in all aspects of their work. The proposed introduction of a subjective approach will lead to added confusion cost and risk for all parties: employers employees insurers and the courts.
If you have had a serious accident in the during the course of your employment please contact us to discuss your claim free of charge with a specialist Employer’s Liability Solicitor.