According to a new report, ‘Making Health and Safety Work for Business: Removing Unnecessary Health and Safety Burdens,’ published by the manufacturers’ organisation EEF, manufacturing companies, factories and warehouses are investing more than ever before on improving the state of health and safety at their premises. This increase in commitment is hugely beneficial to the welfare of workers, visitors and customers but, because it is a result of the ever-changing array of health and safety regulations and legislation, the cost of compliance in terms of time and money is also increasing.
Although most of us would argue this additional cost is worth it to keep everyone safe – the views of manufacturers and business owners may differ. Not only has the huge amount of legislation meant they have increased costs in relation to training, risk assessments and safety precautions, but it also means an increase in the responsibility of the business owner which could, should an accident occur, cost the business even more in legal actions and penalty fines, not to mention the concern of strict liabilities in criminal law.
The report surveyed over 200 businesses, with 7/10 reporting they had experienced an increase in costs and 8/10 an increase in time spent on health and safety compliance.
Negative Attitude to Health & Safety
It does mean that more and more people, from workers to supervisors and business owners are getting tired of the seemingly excessive amount of applicable rules and regulations that hold up simple tasks, frustrate workers and have a detrimental effect on the relationship between businesses and health and safety regulators, inspectors and enforcers.
If this continues if is likely that more and more businesses will feel the strain of conforming with the sea of regulations because of its complexity and conflicting nature, which could adversely affect the health and safety of workers.
Reducing the Burden
The intention of the EEF is to limit the cost and inconvenience to businesses dealing with masses of health and safety requirements, which should in turn help to lower the cost of conducting business in the UK!
That’s why the EEF are challenging the government to reduce the burden of regulation on employers by becoming more active in removing redundant legislation and ensuring new legislation from the EU is properly interpreted to ensure it is having a practical impact on businesses in the ‘near term’.
The Influence of the EU
Health and safety directives from the EU were one of the biggest causes of concern for businesses, with many not understanding the importance or impact new directives may have on their business, resulting in improperly enforced regulations.
For example, many companies asked did not see the point of the new Musculoskeletal Directive, when the existing Display Screen Equipment (DSE) and Manual Handling (MH) regulations are perfectly adequate and practical.
As a result of their findings, the EFF want the government to focus on ensuring the ‘effective, consistent and well-targeted application of existing legislation’, instead of the production and interpretation of new directives and requirements from the EU.
They also want the government to look at the possibility of bringing the enforcement of all Health and Safety legislation under the control of a single organisation, for the sake of easy compliance, and want to be sure that all new regulations are based on solid evidence relating to real and identified risks.
Health and Safety Training Ltd are one of the leading health and safety training providers in the North East.