Should some Health and Safety legislation be reclassified as Approved Codes of Practice (ACoP’s)?


As many ‘safety professionals’ are aware there are moves afoot to de-regulate the myriad of Statutory Instruments (SI) that currently exist under the banner of Health and Safety.

The HSE have tried to put their house in order especially issues around ‘poor or unqualified’ Health and Safety advice, by creating and running the OSHCR database. As I understand it this database is designed to ensure that competent advice could be made available to companies who have been inundated with ‘Myths’ and ‘Rumours’ surrounding Health and Safety. From my point of view, the problem seems to be exasperated by UK society in general using ‘Health and Safety’ as an excuses NOT to perform a particular task or work activity.

I believe passionately that current UK Health and Safety legislation is in place to prevent serious injuries / deaths and improve the working environment for all, a contributory factor for introducing some original SI’s may have been for those industries that cannot ‘self regulate’. The whole point and original aims of Health and Safety in my mind, were to prevent and reduce fatal injuries – so let us look at a couple of examples:

The Display Screen Equipment Regulations 1992 – How many people do you know that have died from failing to follow and implement this Statutory Instrument?

BS7671:2008 the 17th edition of the Wiring Regulations is an ACoP. This is not a Statutory Instrument, however electrical installers use this as a guide to best practice. Even with this ACoP in place people die each year in the UK from electrocution.

My answer to the question of revitalising Health and Safety is therefore is to use HSE statistics in order to undertake gap analysis of fatal injuries. Specifically look at those SI’s in work activities that have a very low or non-existent risk of injury / fatality, then lobby to deregulate these SI’s to ACoP’s. The result would be less bureaucracy and more time to devote to or concentrate minds to serious Health and Safety issues.

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