A recent major survey of the manufacturers’ association EEF (Engineering Employers’ Federation) has reported that despite all the efforts made to reduce unnecessary health and safety regulations, the actual cost of complying with the law has risen. The general opinion of people from the manufacturing industry expressed in the survey is that all ongoing changes in the existing regulations would make a positive impact, but need to be processed quicker.
Generally in recent years more involvement of senior management with health and safety issues has been detected, as well as more investment. This increase has coincided with continued reduction in the number of injuries and accidents. However, about 80% confirmed that they are spending more time and money in complying with the regulations. The impression on the recently introduced FFI (Fees for Intervention) among two-thirds of companies is that the visiting inspectors were more concerned on identifying material breaches and issuing fines, instead of conducting a “normal” inspection and providing some sort of advice and help.
The general opinion of manufacturers regarding the Lofsted review changes is positive, especially the amendments made to RIDDOR procedures. Certain anxiety (especially because of poor understanding) has also been expressed about some recommendations and the active engagement with EU safety regulations.
Simplifying rules is the Governments policy on health and safety issues. This is also the desire of professionals from the manufacturing sector. Some of the proposed improvements that participants strongly agree with are a minimum of 10% reduction of costs and time spent in health and safety management over the next five years, by April 2015 a 50% reduction on safety regulations on the statute book, a minimum of 20% reduction in time and money spent on dealing with personal-injury compensation claims, and 10% reduction of administrative costs derived from the implementation of EU Directives over the next five years.
Another proposal expressed by the surveyed was their desire that for the Government to study the feasibility of bringing health and safety enforcement under a single organization which would strongly benefit small and medium sized companies.
The simplification of the rules and the reducing of costs are the major concerns for businesses when health and safety is concerned. The report presented recently by the Government on what progression has been made so far in safety legislation has been positively accepted by most industries and safety professionals. It’s expected that businesses will be able to save £5m over 10 years only by the amendments produced in RIDDOR regulations. Throughout 2013 more changes and scraping of “red tape” are expected to take place.
However, organizations like IOSH and some safety professionals are being skeptical about the recent and proposed future changes in law. It might be wiser to tackle the widely spread misunderstandings of the law and the culture of over compliance instead of changing laws themselves.