HSE proposals may damage manufacturing relations

Posted on 24 Oct 2011 by The Manufacturer

EEF cautioned government last week of possible damage to relations between the Health and Safety Executive and companies from proposals to charge for the recovery of costs associated with breaches of health and safety.

After the closing of government consultation this week, EEF has encouraged the government to wait until the recommendations of the Lofstedt Review of Health and Safety are published before setting out definite proposals for the reform of health and safety regulation.

Although the manufacturers’ organisation recognises the need for HSE to address its funding issues and supports the principle that those who fail to manage health and safety responsibly should pay – it warned against proposals to punish those who simply make minor oversights in the same way as those committing major breaches.

Head of health & safety policy at EEF, Terry Woolmer, said: “Manufacturers will support the clear principle of intervention where there is a ‘material’ breach of the law and that those who fail to manage health and safety responsibly should pay a form of cost recovery.

However, Mr Woolmer equivocated,“ They also believe that enforcement should be targeted towards those who do not manage significant risks. As it stands the proposals are not sufficiently objective and transparent in differentiating between those failing to manage health and safety and those who are acting responsibly, but have made some oversights. Failure to strike this clear balance in any implementation of cost recovery may damage relations between the regulator and business.”

EEF believes there should be a clear division between chargeable and non-chargeable interventions and any cost recovery system should only apply where the ‘material breach’ leads to an improvement or prohibition notice.

EEF added that it is not adequate for the definition of a ‘material’ or technical breach to be solely determined by the opinion of an inspector and that greater transparency is needed if the process is to be impartial and independent of HSE.