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Budget: Health & Safety regulation review

The Government are introducing legislative change in 2012 so that health and safety law will no longer hold employers to be in breach of their duties in civil law where they have done everything that is reasonably practicable and foreseeable to protect their employees;

  •  giving the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) authority to direct all local authority health and safety inspection and enforcement activity, in order to ensure that it is consistent and targeted towards the most risky workplaces. A code based on existing powers will be introduced in April 2013;
  • amending the Health & Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981 to remove the requirement for HSE to approve the training and qualifications of appointed first-aid personnel. Revised guidance aimed at small business will be published by May 2012, and provisions repealed by October 2012;
  • amending the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulation (RIDDOR) and its associated guidance to provide clarity for businesses on how to comply with the requirements by October 2013. This is in addition to the legislative change being made in April 2012 to extend to seven days (from three) the period an employee needs to have taken off work before an injury or accident needs to be reported;
  • HSE redesigning information on its website in 2012 to distinguish between the regulations that impose specific duties on businesses and those that define ‘administrative requirements’ or revoke or amend earlier regulations;
  • HSE providing further help to businesses by summer 2012 on what is ‘reasonably practicable’ for specific activities where evidence demonstrates that they need further advice to comply with the law in a proportionate way;
  • aiming to start health and safety prosecutions within three years of an incident occurring by April 2013;
  • HSE inputting ideas for micro-exemptions or lighter touch EU health and safety regulation for SMEs to the European Commission, based on ideas raised during the Red Tape Challenge;
  • agreeing that the insurance industry will produce guidance for SMEs setting out what is and is not required to demonstrate compliance with health and safety law when obtaining insurance cover as agreed at the Prime Minister’s insurance summit in February 2012;
  • agreeing that the insurance industry also commits to challenge vexatious civil claims in order to tackle the compensation culture;
  • and working with business and the ABI to build confidence in challenging such claims and ensure businesses have access to the right guidance and support.
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