Government plans biggest health and safety shake-up for 25 years
DESPITE having one of the best health and safety records in the world, every year some 400 people in Britain are killed in accidents at work and up to 25 million working days are lost through work-related accidents and ill health, costing the British economy up to œ18 billion.
In a concerted effort to reduce these figures, the Government and the Health and Safety Commission (HSC) have, for the first time ever, announced national targets which, by the year 2010, aim to:
- reduce the number of days lost through work-related injury and ill health by 30%
- reduce the incidence of people suffering from work-related ill health by 20%
- reduce fatal and major injury accidents by 10%.
Hoping to achieve at least half of each of these improvements by 2004, the Government and the HSC have introduced a 10-point strategy which highlights that employers' health and safety systems must promote a better working environment as well as prevent harm.
The strategy is supported by a 44-point action plan which includes: an occupational health strategy; tougher penalties, including imprisonment, to deter offences; an examination of new innovative penalties, such as fines linked to turnover; a directors code of practice which will make a named person responsible for health and safety in every company; new help for small businesses; and incentives to reward good health and safety performers.
Commenting on the targets, HSC chairman Bill Callaghan said: 'Health and Safety at work should be a core requirement of business activity, not an inconvenient add-on. We need to create a positive health and safety culture which sees the business go beyond doing the statutory.
'The HSC, HSE and local authorities will do all they can to help .... however, I will be looking for top-level commitment from employers, unions and others to agree and set targets for their own sectors and firms. In particular, I would like to see an increasing role for safety representatives.'
Mr Callaghan concluded by warning that he would have no sympathy for employers who chose to ignore their health and safety responsibilities.
'I will be giving the Government every encouragement to introduce measures which crack down hard on offending employers,' he said.
Copies of the action plan, entitled 'Revitalizing Health and Safety Strategy Statement', can be obtained free of charge by calling;"