According to an article in The Sun on Wednesday, Jane Moore claimed that “Health and Safety laws have flourished under Labour”. Well as many of you will know, I’m no fan of the Labour party, but let’s just see how true that is.

Labour came to power on the most recent occasion in 1997: The Health and Safety at Work Act came in in 1974 (under a Labour government but the foundation work was done by the Conservatives). The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations came in in 1992, as did the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations, the Workplace (Health Safety and Welfare) Regulations and the Manual Handling Operations Regulations. The Electricity at Work Regulations date from 1989.

Health and Safety regulations brought in since 1997 include:
The Reporting of Injuries Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2005
The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999

…all of which are merely modernisations of regulations originally implemented in 1995, 1992 and 1992 (again) respectively. The Health and Safety (Offences) Act 2008 only updated the penalties for breaches of the 1974 act, and the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 hugely simplified the requirements of the old Fire Precautions Act.

In fact, the only Health and Safety legislation I can think of that impacts on general areas of the UK workplace and were introduced by Labour are:
The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 (which formalised 1985 requirements);
The Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations 1999 (which implemented the Seveso Directive of 1996)
…and of course the Corporate Manslaughter Act 2007, which didn’t actually introduce any new duties, it just made it easier to obtain a prosecution when duties which already existed had been breached.

Oh, and the Work at Height Regulations 2005 which – you’ve guessed it – replace a selection of earlier regulations.

What has increased under this government is a huge Health and Safety mythology where employers have been led to believe they’re prohibited from doing huge numbers of things which, properly done, are perfectly safe and permissible – such as the use of stepladders in basic maintenance. This mythology is partly down to consultants hoping to make a fast buck by selling people services they don’t need, but mainly to the government continuing to allow the Health and Safety profession to continue unregulated, meaning anyone, with no qualifications or experience, can set up as a Health and Safety sepcialist and give whatever advice they think is right.

Rant over. Thank goodness it’s the weekend :-)

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