Many of you will have seen this news story, or the interview with Lord Young on the telly, about a gubmint-sponsored review into Health and Safety legislation.

It’s worrying that the review is being led by someone who thinks that lunacies like “Safety goggles to play conkers” and “toothpicks banned in restaurants” are a result of Health and Safety law. They’re a result of policies being made and implemented by people who don’t understand either the law or the risk reduction process, and an argument for better health and safety, not less.

Lord Young also said this morning that part of the problem is that anyone can set themselves up as a Health and Safety consultant with no qualifications – which is true, but in a speech on 24th March this year he criticised the professional body for failing to campaign for better regulation of the profession – despite the fact that the Institute has been campaigning for exactly that for five years.

So, more in hope than expectation, here’s my shopping list for what I’d like to see come out of the Young Review:

  1. Regulation of the Health and Safety profession, to require that only individuals of proven competence can practice as Health and Safety Advisors. You have to be of proven competence to be a gas fitter or electrician – why not a Health and Safety person?
  2. Insurers forced to better support companies with compensation claims: I’ve seen cases where insurers have paid out on obviously-phony compensation claims, rather than go to court and fight them. This alone has contributed hugely to the growth of the “Compensation Culture”, and of course the insurers rarely suffer – they just put the premium up next year
  3. Trade unions forced to take responsibility for malicious false claims made by their members and carried out by union lawyers: Again, I’ve seen claims where the claimant had obviously made untrue statements – only to get away with it because insurers wouldn’t tackle unions.
  4. Consistency of enforcement by the Health and Safety Executive, which is a bit patchy now. And fire safety – which is in part enforced by the fire authorities – is even worse, with businesses in some areas receiving improvement orders when they’re doing what businesses in other areas are being advised to.
  5. And this one’s a real dream…

  6. The Press forced to adopt a more responsible attitude to reporting, so the only things reported as Health and Safety stories are real Health and Safety stories rather than pathetic scaremongering (incidentally, we recently read of a health and safety prosecution after a gym user was killed in a lift accident – where were Clarkson, Littlejohn and all the other idiots then, with their “too much Health and Safety law”?)

Meantime, what effect am I expecting to actually see over the next couple of years? Not much.

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