It has recently been reported that the Government plans to strip “Britain’s health and safety culture” of unnecessary bureaucratic red tape. This will put better protection in place for employers who do adhere to health and safety regulations but end up in liability claims. Sometimes somebody may do something irresponsible within an organization, even though the correct safety measures were put in place by management. Also, there may be occasions where individuals may refrain from helping others due to fears of a negligence lawsuit against them, for example, in volunteering. Judges will have to take all aspects of an alleged offence into account so that there is a fairer outcome for all.
There are many proposed changes to regulations and health and safety law. The HSE is currently proposing changes to many sets of regulations this year. This is in compliance with Section 16 of the Health and Safety Act 1974 (HSW act) which requires the HSE to consult on provisions to ACOPs prior to Ministerial approval. Proposals to amend PUWER (Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations) approved codes of practice (ACOP) has already begun to take place this year and responses would have taken up until the 23 May 2014. Included in the consultative document on the revision of PUWER are the revised ACOPs for the Safe Use of Power Presses and the Safe Use of Woodworking Machinery. There are proposals to review all three sets of regulations within the same time period. Some revised proposals include reducing PUWER to a limit of 32 pages so that the information was not overwhelming. The outcome was that PUWER needed to be as long as was necessary to impart the relevant information. The woodworking ACOPs now addresses health and safety issues, where it didn’t before. In all, there were no plans to change the regulations, just to make slight amendments to make it easier and more understandable for users. ‘PUWER 98’ has been dropped and is now simply known as ‘PUWER’. Some additional information has been taken from the HSW Act and added to PUWER ACOP. Some introductory text from PUWER has been cut down and a little more added on risk assessment. Some repetitive guidance has been removed. There is now reference to guidance on young people. There is also new guidance for chainsaw operators. Reference to RIDDOR in the ACOP is now to be more up to date. In the new proposed PUWER, old and irrelevant information is removed and there is now more use of lists to make things simpler to understand.
With regards to Safe Use of Power Presses, there is now reference to temporary workers and those where English is not their first language. Things have been re-ordered, amended and cut down in these ACOPs. With regards to the Safe Use of Woodworking Machinery, there has been some text removed, word changes and historical data removed. As per the Safe Use of Power Presses, there is now a reference to temporary workers and non-native English speakers.