Along with many aspects of FM, the world of health and safety rarely stands still. Staying on top of vital changes is a daunting task, but it is essential that every organisation pushes health and safety to the top of the agenda, says Lee Calver.
4 November 2014
Being involved in FM requires knowledge across a range of topics, such as new laws or changes to existing legislation, an understanding of national and global best practices and an awareness of international standards. But how is it possible to absorb all of this information with so many daily tasks to keep on top of?
Becoming an expert on all necessary laws, regulations and standards is almost impossible, but it is paramount that you do stay on top of vital updates.
The government uses two Common Commencement Dates a year for regulations and new legislation to come into place; 1 April and 1 October.
The right direction
This year can be seen as an iconic year for health and safety. It is 40 years since the introduction of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.
Back in 1974, 651 work-related deaths from accidents were recorded, while the most recent statistics for 2013/14 were 133 work-related deaths. Clearly, more work is needed, but it is positive to see the figures heading in the right direction.
Over that 40-year period, we have also witnessed a wider remit of legislation that covers more workplaces, helps to protect more workers and addresses some of the emerging risks that we now better understand.
It has not all been plain sailing and the UK has had to face a number of challenges, including the continuing battle to see health and safety as a positive thing to get right in the workplace. Above and beyond that is membership of the EU and its associated impact on what is done in the UK, plus deregulation and cost-cutting in some areas of the enforcement regime.
The government's review of health and safety in the UK is now into its fourth year and there have been some significant milestones during that period.
Both Lord Young's Common Sense, Common Safety report and Professor Lofstedt's review are now forming the future strategy of health and safety regulation within the UK and outcomes from the 'Good Health and Safety, Good for Everyone' initiative are starting to filter through in terms of a more pragmatic approach to managing workplace risk.
Fee for intervention
The HSE was given the green light in October 2012 to start charging for its time spent 'intervening' under the fee for Intervention scheme (FFI). At £124 an hour, latest figures suggest the HSE is recouping somewhere in the region of £1 million a month in FFI charges. Although the average FFI notice is about £500, it is worth noting that 51 notices have been over £10,000.
To date, it is only the HSE that charges for its time spent inspecting, but that is not to say it won't be extended to other enforcing agencies in the future.
A recent report stated that fee for intervention is effective and should stay, so it will be interesting to see whether other enforcing agencies follow FFI's lead in the coming months.
Despite it getting the results it was looking for, has it driven a wedge between organisations and the HSE? Whereas companies in the past would feel confident calling the HSE to assist with their concerns, are they now afraid they will be hit with a hefty fine by asking for guidance?
Guidance and ACoPs
Over the past couple of years Approved Code of Practices (ACoPs) and guidance surrounding health and safety legislation have been regularly discussed, and we have seen revision, consolidation and withdrawal of a number of documents in the recent past. In the next six months changes to the following ACoPs are expected:
- Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER)
- Pressure Systems Safety Regulations 2000
- Confined Spaces Regulations 1997
They should also receive an update following the recent consultation on proposals to exempt self-employed persons from section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.
Display the poster
As of 5 April 2014, all workplaces had to make sure they were displaying the updated Health and Safety Law Poster; they risk being fined if they fail to comply with that legislation.
Under the Health and Safety Information for Employees Regulations (HSIER), employers are required to display the correct poster in a prominent position in all workplaces and should also provide staff who work remotely or off-site with a copy of the She's health and safety law leaflet or pocket card.
The final outcomes following one of the biggest HSE consultations in history on proposals to revise the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 (CDM 2007) is still to come. The new regulations will be implemented in April 2015.
International Workplace is the BIFM's adviser on employment law, health & safety and premises management. This information was first presented at its biannual FM legal update event
Lee Calver, content developer, International Workplace