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Health and safety professionals against deregulation, says IOSH

Posted by Tracy Seward

Health and safety professionals remain vehemently opposed to Government plans to deregulate areas of health and safety, according to the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH).

The statement has been made as the Government’s Deregulation Bill is returning to the House of Commons where it will go before members of parliament for further discussion.

Included in the Bill is a clause which exempts certain self-employed workers from health and safety law.

It suggests that workers will be exempt from health and safety law if they are self-employed, do not employ anyone else, that their activities pose no potential risk of harm to others, and that they do not work in a high hazard or high-risk sectors (to be designated ‘prescribed’) such as agriculture, construction or gas fitting and installation.

IOSH continues to campaign against this clause, arguing that it would be a backward step as it says the self-employed are not burdened by health and safety law as it stands, and that exemption could cause confusion, lower standards and increase the risk of injury and illness at work.

Delegates who attended IOSH’s annual conference, held at ExCeL London on June 17 and 18, also overwhelmingly voted against deregulation of health and safety.

In a closing debate, professionals at IOSH 2014 were asked if deregulation of health and safety was a good thing – to which 73 per cent said it wasn’t.

Richard Jones, head of policy and public affairs at IOSH, said: “We are focused on trying to get the proposal to exempt certain self-employed workers from health and safety law removed from the Bill.

“Though we are in favour of streamlining and simplification, this is only where it’s helpful and does not lead to lower standards or erosion of protection.

“As well as being unnecessary, the big concern we have is the likelihood that this clause will cause massive confusion, because self-employed people who should not be exempt may think that they are.

“We are here to help employers ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of everyone at work and we do not want anything that will detract from that or make things worse.”

The Bill will be read out before members of parliament in the House of Commons for the third time – known as the Report Stage and Third Reading.

Should it pass these stages, the Bill will then move to the House of Lords for further debate.

If both Houses agree on Bill’s contents, it will go on to progress towards receiving Royal Assent from the Queen and become law.

Mr Jones said IOSH intends to continue making the case to oppose this clause and raise concerns with members of both Houses.

Other changes have already been made to the Bill that mirrored IOSH’s stance when it presented written evidence on the proposal.

They included removing a clause which would have given new powers for Ministers to scrap laws that they deemed were “no longer of practical use”.

For more information on our IOSH Working Safely eLearning course, please click here.

Praxis42 news is provided in partnership with Barbour EHS

June 2014

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