The government has recently unveiled plans to cut unnecessary health & safety inspections by a third to shops and offices. This is part of the plan introduced by Lord Young to reduce the burden of health & safety on what he see as “low-risk” businesses.
Guidance has been produced for the local authorities who regulate these premises to concentrate on higher risk companies and in so doing reduce inspections of well run premises by 65,000. The guidance apparently makes it clear that businesses with a good safety record of managing safety hazards should not face routine inspection.
This has got us thinking that in most prosecutions we see published that the companies normally refer to their exemplary safety record before the event. However in truth in many cases clearly the basic fundamental levels of control are usually missing which is why they ended up in court. If they were on the list of companies with a good safety record then is it right that they will be unlikely for an unannounced inspection?
What also seems not to add up is that this apparently low risk retail sector contributed to 13% of all RIDDOR reportable incidents involving employees, 8% of fatalities and 12% of major injuries. Maybe it is only a few that makes the sector look less than safe but we doubt it.
We know from working previously with one of the larger supermarkets that RIDDOR reports were a common occurrence; more common than for many of our other clients. What does that tell us?
We are all for reducing health & safety burden where its truly justified but not as a means to saving money. As we have discussed previously health & safety is more than ticking boxes and if done correctly should be a benefit to businesses not a burden.