2014: Change in Regulations, Behaviour, Culture

Speakers from IIRSM Conference 2013Having recently visited the IIRSM Conference in Birmingham we were very pleased with the conference as a whole but particularly interested in the update from Judith Hackitt, the Chair of the HSE.

Judith stated that much about the implementation of the regulations is misrepresentation and as health and safety professionals we are all guilty of adding fuel to the flames. What the HSE does is good, it provides an essential job. Real health and safety it about the important parts of the work, the risk elements, so therefore over interpretation has had a negative effect. An example of this is the inappropriate use of 'high-viz'; the point of high-viz is to make people stand out and not be part of a crowd. It should be used as a last resort and not be commonplace.

Judith went on to say that "Myths were not invented by the media"; there are too many stories about what you cannot do because of the various regulations, to the point of madness sometimes. We need to create the right culture and change the behaviour of the people around us. She said that health and safety professionals are key to this change and we should be more pragmatic in our approach.

On the subject of 'where we are now' Judith was pleased to state that the statistics show there has been an 11% drop in major injuries and 23 less fatalities – but this is still too many. Occupational health is still a huge problem as past exposure to harmful substances at work caused over 12,000 deaths a year, 4,000 of which are accountable to Asbestos. So you can see why Occupational Health is high on the HSE agenda in 2014.

Also in 2014 the HSE is going to be running a new Asbestos campaign that will focus in changing behaviour as well as raising awareness. The HSE has made some marketing partnerships and there will be 'kits' available and the HSE will be using other types of media for raising awareness; for example the use of electronic media, pictures and language on the Internet as well as on-line risk assessments to facilitate intelligent behaviour.

As we all know the HSE is carrying out a review of the various regulations. Nevertheless the issue here is that initially the HSE will be targeting the areas and regulations where there is greater risk of death. They are also changing the look and feel regarding the regulations and this is supported with 'online' guidance. On the whole 80% of the legislation has been removed or improved, mainly down to obvious duplication, and the HSE are trying to strike a balance replacing other or old acts. Regarding online support, the HSE has had over 464,000 separate instances to their Tool Box in September 2013 and over 1,000,000 visitors to the health and safety made simple website.

Regarding inspections, the HSE will be targeting all areas with NO exceptions. However they will be looking towards areas of greatest risk, for example high incident sites or poor performers. The LA National Code insures the HSE proportionate risk based approach to interventions is adapted by local authorities.  These new codes will be published after the public consultation period and the local authorities are expected to target specified sectors that they know are underperforming.

The HSE general review is taking place every three years and is monitored by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). This is now ready to be implemented in 2014. The aim is to ensure that their function remains proportionate to the 'needs'. The review is an 'enabler' to help shape the HSE's work in the coming months. Strategic direction remains the same:-

  • Delivery and implementation of health and safety performances
  • More inspectors have been bought on board (30 new ones recently)
  • The aims are to be flexible, targeted, efficient, effective and proportionate

CDM Regulations 2014/2015

As we all know, the CDM revision forms part of the overall guidance review. However the revision will not be a significant change in the technical standards with regards to CDM as they have stood the test of time. That said, the HSE want to make them easy to understand and they want to make sure they achieve satisfactory transposition from the EU regulations. We, the health and safety professionals in the UK, have the power to influence this directive though as we are very well thought of in EU countries as our health and safety has improved over time.  Key elements are visibility for all and improvement of standards and, despite the fact we are killing less people, worker protection is still not good enough.

The revised CDM package should be able to deliver significant savings to businesses. Ai Solutions are not sure how this is going to materialise. Additionally the HSE are talking about a withdrawal of the ACoP; this is fine as long as they bring in some other document that will be as easy to understand as the current ACoP. The HSE has stated that the revised regulations will come into force in April 2015 and formal consultation is expected to start in early 2014 so be ready with your input, ideas and feedback.

One other concern we would like to highlight in regard to CDM is the fact that they are looking to review how competence is managed. The HSE did not see the full benefit of pre-qualification service from third party providers. However, for most of our customers, competence is a bit of a sticky subject, hard to manage and implement and finally ensure you have the right person on the job.

So the final word on CDM . . .  we all need to make sure we have an input into the EU directive! It is an opportunity and we must all get involved in the process. We need to strengthen the way that the regulations are used and ensure that the good quality that we've had in place for many years is the way that the EU will go and not vice versa.

Shirley Radford, Director
Ai Solutions Ltd