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Lord Young's health and safety law review

21 June 2010

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents has welcomed the announcement of a review into health and safety law and practice.The Prime Minister announced that the Rt Hon Lord Young of Graffham would undertake a Whitehall-wide review of the operation of health and safety laws and the growth of the compensation culture.

Tom Mullarkey, chief executive of RoSPA, said: "We welcome this review and hope it will get to the bottom of concerns about health and safety once and for all, considering facts as well as people's opinions.
"RoSPA believes that there is nothing essentially wrong with the Health and Safety at Work Act, which dates back to 1974 and has proportionality at its heart. The problem is in its application. Good safety is all about good judgement - avoiding the intolerable, ignoring the trivial and, in between, getting the balance right between risk and the cost of precautions. In the workplace, 'health and safety culture' is a good thing, saving lives, preventing injuries and helping to cut costs and promote efficiency.
"In practice, however, many people are getting the balance wrong. Some are going too far (although many stories about over-the-top safety turn out on examination to be myths). In many other cases, people are still being hurt in easily preventable accidents because not enough is being done to ensure safety. In general, the latter is still a bigger problem than the former in our view. Let's not forget that accidents are the principal cause of death among under-35s and that the number of people dying in accidents is going up - the figure currently stands at around 13,500 accidental deaths each year in the UK. There is no room for complacency.
"RoSPA has previously called for a permanent body to investigate and take action on disproportionate health and safety issues, and we welcome this review as an important first step. The problem of getting safety right is one that needs to be solved through education not more legislation.
"Good research evidence rather than anecdotage is needed to establish the extent of problems in this field and to help identify possible solutions. As ever, RoSPA stands ready and willing to help."


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