David Cameron’s comments on Health and Safety legislation must be a source of great frustration to those working to improve safety in the work place.
His confused thinking is summed up by just one sentence from his speech. “Everyday they battle against a tide of risk assessment forms and face the fear of being sued for massive sums”. He criticises the use of risk assessments and then goes on to talk of the risk of being sued when things goes wrong – does he understand just how ridiculously contradictory this sounds? On the one hand he seems to suggest that risk assessments are an unnecessary blight on businesses, yet in the same breath, he acknowledges that these same businesses are vulnerable to being sued when things go wrong!
The logical conclusion here, is that by addressing the compensation culture that has been created by the no win no fee legal system, you can also dispense with the need for risk assessments. This would be throwing the baby out with the bath water and then some.
By all means, stop the compensation culture in its tracks, by stopping the lawyers from inflating their fees, but leave the well understood and totally justified work place risk assessment requirements in place. There is a clear danger that the current pariahs of the workplace, no win no fee lawyers, will be replaced by cowboy employers, who feel they can ignore worker safety in pursuit of profit, because the Prime Minister says so.
The Health and Safety Executive should be the ones determining the level of safety monitoring and assessment needed in the work place, not the politicians.