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When Can Health And Safety Rules Be Broken?
Posted by David Cant on June 7, 2013
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cartoon man dispensing safety tapeThe answer is when there are no longer rules. Contrary to what some people believe, health and safety is not a fixed set of immoveable rules cast in stone and framed with iron. Health and safety rules and regulations change, and this is important.

It is also the cause of a certain number of problems, so let"s look at why the rules change, how they are changed, and how you can best keep up with these changes.

Why Do Health And Safety Rules Need To Be Changed?

There are three main reasons why it might be necessary to re-evaluate the legislation or regulations pertaining to a specific area of health and safety. These include:

  • when new technology, machinery or methods introduce new potential risks or dangers which did not previously exist, or at least not in that form
  • when new technology, machinery or methods are introduced which renders previous risks irrelevant
  • when it is considered to be detrimental to the activity, and where the benefits outweigh the risks

Clearly the risks associated with creating a wheel today are very different from those surrounding the activity a few thousand years ago. Back then the risks involved being crushed by a ton of rock, or lopping an arm off with a rudimentary flint axe. Today the risks might involve pneumatic machinery, chemicals or high powered electric blades. It makes sense that as the methods and the tools change, so too do the risks, and so in turn the rules and regulations need to keep up to reflect and address those risks.

It is also interesting to be aware that the HSE regularly consults over existing rules and requirements, and does sometimes make changes which effectively de-regulate certain activities, locations or procedures. It also of course regularly introduces new requirements.

How Does The HSE Update The Regulations Relating To Health And Safety?

The HSE introduces changes to health and safety law on the two Common Commencement Dates required by the government. These are 6th April and 1st October.

Just a little way ahead of these two dates the DWP and the HSE publish a summary of their recommendations. You can find a list of the latest of these on the official website: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-work-pensions/series/better-regulation.

You can also read the very latest statement of new regulation (SONR) published by the HSE on 17th December 2012, which lists all those regulations which either were, or are to be introduced or scrapped between January 1st this year and 30th June. You can download a copy by visiting https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/36833/12-p96c-fifth-statement-of-new-regulation.pdf

For example, the most recent SONR shows that around 85% of health and safety regulations are being reduced or scrapped, including the deregulation of many live music performances in places such as pubs. It also details the launch of the Health and Safety Toolbox: How To Control Risks At Work, aimed at SMEs (http://www.hse.gov.uk/toolbox/index.htm).

It"s clearly important to read these documents, and to keep up to date with the very latest regulations. It"s important not only to make sure that you are implementing all of the very latest regulations and requirements, but you are also benefitting from the latest resources, and aware of the reduction or scrapping or requirements relating to some areas of health and safety.

if you"re not confident about being fully up to date with every aspect of health and safety legislation and could do with some expert advice to make sure you"re doing this correctly call one of our specialist advisors on 0800 1488 677, and they will be happy to help make sure you’re implementing the very latest regulations in the best possible way.

About 

David Cant is a Chartered Safety and Health Practitioner with a brain you can pick. Fluent in practical advice. He has a wealth of Industry experience and is the Director of life at Veritas Consulting.

You can find him on - Twitter and Facebook also Linkedin

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