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kerry davies

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Most of you know I have little time for Lord Young or his study into H&S law but I must say that some of his report is interesting, at first glance. http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/newsroom/n...1015-young.aspx


Stuff like simplifying RA's for low risk premises and activities are what I have been doing on a personal level for years and a simplified claims procedure for claims are welcome. However, limiting RTA damages to £25,000 is appalling. A drunken driver paralyses a young person and gets away with that amount of damages? Not real. The wording also raises the spectre of a £25,000 limit on all damages in the future

Getting insurance companies to draw up Codes of Practice for businesses is a worry, particularly when he recommends further legislation if they cannot do so. I thought this was about reducing legislation? Insurance companies running H&S? Not too sure about that.

Getting H&S inspections combined with Food Safety seems sensible until I think of some of the incredibly nit-picking, rules bound food inspections I have been part of.

Separating 'At Work' and leisure and play activities seems a bit pointless as we do not AFIK have H&S at Play legislation. Why separate out something which is separate?

He has made specific points about LA's banning things on H&S grounds which means he has not researched the apocryphals sufficiently. LA's have banned very little if any activities on H&S grounds alone.

He also suggests a risk-benefit analysis rather than a risk assessment in schools, which implies he does not understand the current UK law as this element is part of standard RA procedure at present.

Changing RIDDOR from 3 days to 7 smacks of saving businesses money, rather than a reduction of H&S law. It also means that self-certification for sickness benefits will probably be affected.

His suggestion to 'clarify (through legislation if necessary) that people will not be held liable for any consequences due to well-intentioned voluntary acts on their part' leaves the door open to interpretation. How can anyone judge whether the intentions are malicious or otherwise? This asks for a moral rather than legal judgement and adds legislation rather than reducing it.

One recommendation is to introduce Justice Jacksons review of litigation which will save bigger companies a fortune. It does unfortunately mean that working people will no longer be able to sue employers etc. because of the costs. To quote another lawyer, “only the super-wealthy will have the means to sue — people won’t want to chance their house in litigation against wellresourced defendants”.


My biggest concern is the removal of H&S control of police officers. Most of my friendly fuzz are worried about this as it removes responsibility from their management for their safety. I am concerned that it has been suggested as a result of the De Menezes case. What happens in future when an innocent bystander is shot by an armed policeman? Absolutely nothing if he is exempt from a duty of care to those around him. I suspect the thin end of a very authoritarian wedge.


The government have accepted all his recommendations in full and the Chinese curse, may you live in interesting times, seems appropriate. I am old and cynical so please can someone pose the case for Lord Young's and the governments point of view?

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I am not going to put a case in favour of the report because I have not digested it yet. However I am going to suggest that a measure of change or disruption is timely, more or less regardless of the specifics, because it helps to break the relentless cycle of the regulatory ratchet.


I have a strong interest in engineering history. In fact, it's what I live for, especially in the context of theatre and cinema. So I have a good opportunity to compare historical practice with current, as I'm obliged to study both in some detail. Given the context of what the previous few generations did with impunity, I find the current level at which everyone's supposed duty of care is pitched quite stifling, and it makes me reluctant to innovate, experiment or push the boundaries simply because I am bored of subjective threat of litigation. It may not be a real threat, but until I foul up and see whether someone does or does not tear me to ribbons, I can't tell. So I don't bother.


Much of this treacle through which I feel as though I am wading does not arise from the HSE themselves as they advocate moderation and common sense. However it is an inevitable consequence of legislation that there will be inappropriate interpretations and implementations of that legislation, which in the context of HASAW tends to result in exaggerated measures and a distortion of the concensus of tolerable risk level.


Therefore, any signal sent out to the effect that there may be harm in the current trend towards microregulation of all activities in the name of safety, could result in a shakeup at the business end of things that helps bring real-world practice back into line with what the HSE intended in the first place. I believe this report sends such a signal.



(Who was once cautioned for not wearing safety glasses and a Hi-Viz vest when doing a photographic survey in a clean, lit habitable building)

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I may well get shot down for my opinion, but it is my honest and considered opinion, so here I go


I feel that our current culture of health and safely financial liability has a great deal to answer for. I feel that it restricts free thinking, forward growth and good old fashioned good will.


Im not sure about what real benefit the compensation culture brings. The whole modern assumption that there must always be someone to blame, and therefore someone to pay benefits very few in real terms and punishes everybody.


Even in very clear cut cases, such as the drunk driver Vs. innocent pedestrian case mentioned, im not convinced that the priority should be the amount of cash awarded to the victim - I would say that the punishment dealt out to the perpetrator of what is after all a crime should be the priority. A compensation payment made to the victim by the perpetrator is no punishment - he may or may not have insurance to take the burden - if not he goes personally bankrupt etc etc.


So, you say, who looks after the victim? Do they rely on there own personal accident insurance? Does the state provide? Well thats a whole other discussion, and I don't claim to have all the answers.


So, personally, im all for a return to good old common sense, and a culture of personal responsibility.


The bulk of what the health and safely executive stands for should be applauded, but things have got to the point where it is starting to impinge on the ability of this nation to remain competitive in a seemingly more practical world.


Let the roasting commence...

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So, personally, im all for a return to good old common sense, and a culture of personal responsibility.

The problem with common sense these days is that it is not that common.


Does "this generation" (however we define that) have less common sense than previous ones?


It would be interesting to see someone try and do an objective study of this.


We can probably say that our surroundings are safer than they were 20 or 30yrs ago. There are things like airbags and ABS in cars, RCDs and generally better electrical standards. Does this mean that idiots get more inventive? Or that if you dropped people from today back into the 1970's they'd have injured themselves almost instantly?


I remember reading one author who argued that seatbelts make people drive faster and more recklessly, because they don't feel as vulnerable. I did once hear someone offer up the opinion that it didn't really matter what their wiring was like, as long as there was an RCD on the supply.


Do we need more laws, regulations, and H&S because people are stupid, or do people become stupid because they are now insulated from so many of life's dangers?

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we don't need any more legislation - infact im sure there is a great deal of dead wood on the statute books that could be got rid off.


There is just as much common sense around today as there ever was - its just that we not need it, hence don't use it - well some of us anyway...



so, I for one am in favour of a major simplification of the state and its somewhat cumbersome and overbearing departments. we will survive!, we managed before!

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I don't think that common sense is any more or less prevalent. I believe the term common sense has been hijacked anyway. Common sense is for things like running away from tigers and not eating that brightly coloured berry, hundreds of thousands of year of evolution. It has nothing to do with using 'the correct ladder or 'not using something with a damaged flex'. These things need to be taught to the majority of people. If you invented electricity it is obvious to you that it is dangerous. But this is probably because it has nearly killed you a few times.


I was recently told that Judith Hackitt (HSE Chair) spends the majority of her time telling everyone to calm down. I don't envy her in the slightest.

The press will quite happily run a story about some mythical ban but then won't even report some poor chap who has fallen off some scaffold or had a heavy load fall of a tail lift and squash him flat (from recent ABBT Sightline). Some idiot at a local authority decides to issue some a memo after an incident and the whole country has been banned by the HSE!!!


The HSE exists out of necessity mostly because people do not play with a straight bat. They don't really care about law, they just want less people to die unnecessarily. Unfortunately, law is the only weapon in their arsenal. Telling people that someone might die if they don't think about the way things are done clearly is not enough. That only leaves us with punishment after the fact. Apart from being far too late for the dead, it has lead us to this so called compensation culture. It's hardly surprising. If businesses are being fined and/or held accountable, then why shouldn't the victim (or relatives) have some of the action.


We are a far safer country compared to 20 or 30 years ago because of the HSE intervention (amongst others). Unfortunately this is only because of the hundreds of thousands of people that have had to die for us to learn. We literally didn't survive then or manage before. If these accidents had not been investigated then there is no question that the businesses would have just been indifferent. "oh well, accidents happen'. There have been improvements in many areas but then we have also found new and interesting ways to put ourselves at risk.


Look at some of the unregulated developing countries. Even factoring in the increased population, their safety records are appalling. The Chilean mine was the classic 'accident waiting to happen'. Even before the celebrations had ended , a mine in China collapsed trapping over a thousand.


There is much knee jerking, but this is down to ill-informed public putting pressure on equally ill-informed councils and MPs. There are some departments that need a good shake up. We also need to provide better information and start young. Education is designed to furnish us with a set of general skills in the hope that we apply them to all of our everyday life. We need to go back a little bit and start to put back some of those specifics that have been lost. Increasingly, it would appear that only a relatively small proportion of the populous will run away from a lion, armed only with the knowledge that a tiger might eat them.


The point is that things do not need to be simplified, they already are. It is all about re-adjusting the perception of how it all works.


"If you can't [won't] do it safely/properly, then you can't do it at all." - interestingly something that school children are told time and time again.


People are concentrating on the second half of the rule, if they concentrated on the first half then the law would become redundant.


Edit: SPaG.

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Thank you Andrew, the two halves to my rule on H&S (and kids) are "do what thou wilt" and "an it harm none", something that takes an enormous amount of personal responsibility to follow. None includes oneself so this anarchic creed even sounds a bit like HSWA.


My big question remains, how can a simplification promise three new pieces of legislation and then remove the duty of care from police officers managing crowds at festys or footie and when carrying guns on tube trains? Let alone hint at maximising damages awards to £25,000?


Keep the comments coming, I am learning lots.

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Do away with it.For 1000's of years mankind survived without the interference of elf and stacey nazis,mankind invented fire without a risk aasesment ,a few got burned,a tree or 2 got destroyed,but slowly we learned,those that didn't disappeared. Same goes with all the great discoverys in the history of mankind,Could you imagine the reaction today if a scientist announced he was going to throw 2 uranium atoms at each other in the uni squash courts ,just to see what would happen? It will also do away with those blood sucking leaches called no blame solicitors
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Do away with it....


An understandable viewpoint.... but as soon as someone decides that they will make some below minimum wage worker bang two uranium atoms together with no protection, and then chuck the efluent down the drain because it's cheaper to do so and makes bigger profits, then there will be a (justifiable) cry for better environmental and safety standards.


Love canal, Minamata, Gold mining in Mongolia and Turner & Newall's evasion of responsibility give historical and present day examples. The following quote is attributed to Turner in 1937, "All asbestos fibre dust is a danger to lungs. If we can produce evidence from this country that the industry is not responsible for any asbestosis claims, we may be able to avoid tiresome regulations and the introduction of dangerous occupational talk."


There are times when environmental and health & safety law is absolutely necessary to save us from our own greed and destruction.

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An oldie,but sums it up nicley for me



Looking back........how did some of us "auld yins" survive? from the 40's, 50's, 60's & 70's?

As children we would ride in cars with no seatbelts or airbags.

Our cots were covered in brightly coloured lead based paint.

We had no child-proof lids on medicine bottles. We rode our bikes we had no helmets.

We would spend hours building go-karts out of scrap and then ride them down hills only to find out we forgot the brakes..

We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the street lights came on.

No-one was able to reach us there was no mobile phones.

We suffered cuts, and broken bones and teeth, but there were no suing..they were accidents.

No-one was to blame, but us. Remember accidents??

We had fights, punched each other and got black and blue and learned to get over it.

We ate cakes, bread and butter, and drank ginger, but we were never overweight.......because we were always outside playing.

We shared a drink with friends from one bottle and no-one died from this.

We did not have Playstations or X-boxes, 65 channels on pay TV, video films. DVD`s, mobiles computers, Internet chatrooms-we had friends. We went outside and found them.

We rode bikes or walked to a friend`s home and rung the doorbell, or just walked in and talked to them. imagine such a thing, without asking a parent!! By ourselves..out there in the cold cruel world.

How did we do it??

We made up games with sticks and ate worms and although we were told it would happen, we did not put out very many eyes, nor did the worms live inside us for ever..

Footie and netball had trials and not everyone made the team. Those who didn`t had to learn to deal with disappointment.

Our actions were our own. No-one to hide behind

The idea of a parent bailng us out if we broke a law was unheard of they actually sided with the law-imagine that!!

This generation produced some of the best risk takers, problem solvers and inventors ever. The past 50years has been an explosion of innovation.

We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility and we learned how to deal with it all. Congratulations!!

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Yes but we are taking about work. Kids playing out is a different ball game. When was the last time we saw those public information films. The green cross code man, the reaper in the gravel pits, the girl fallen through the plate glass in every bank and public building in the country. We occasionally get the odd crossing hedgehog and then obviously the main one for this time of year; bonfire night. That is about it, either better education or legislative removal/protection from is mostly why.


I'm quite happy for kids to make go-karts without brakes, but I'm buggered if I am going to pay for them to be carted off to hospital and stitched back together. If you want to be a risk taker then you have to face up to the responsibility of patching yourself back up and paying for anyone else who is unlucky enough to get in the way.


When it comes to work.


For injuries, between 1974 and 2009:


the number of fatal injuries to employees fell by 81%;

the rate of fatal injury (per 100 000 employees) fell by 83%;

the number of reported non-fatal injuries fell by 72%;

there have been reductions in injury rates and numbers in all main industry sectors

around 24% of the reduction in the rate of fatal injury in the last 10 years can be attributed to a shift in employment away from manufacturing and heavy industry to lower risk service industries;

recent research suggests that about 50% of the reduction in non-fatal injury rate since 1986 is due to changes in occupations of workers.


Note the first date; familiar?...Even taking out the changes to the types of jobs this is a huge reduction. Everything has fallen including illness, with the exception of asbestos related diseases.


The majority of innovation in the last 50 years is fundamentally rooted in finding ways to chuck stuff at each other, protect ourselves from others chucking stuff at us and trying to find out if and when stuff is going to be chucked. The next biggest influence is the space race. Thankfully the majority of the final results from all of this is been positive.


Interesting choice in likening H+S to the Nazis. Oh the irony.


Limiting damages to £25,000 does not appear to be blanket. It appears to be aimed towards medical negligence.

If someone left the back door open on the ferry you were on and it capsized, you would still be getting a big payout.


"Common Sense, Common Safety puts forward a series of policies for improving the perception of health and safety, to ensure it is taken seriously by employers and the general public, while ensuring the burden on small business is as insignificant as possible."


The perception is that health and safety gets in the way and doesn't really improve anything. In reality it is not being implemented properly across the board. Then the blame game begins and the ambulance chasers have a field day.


Edit: SPag and clarification.

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Not just medical negligence but RTA personal injury and (possibly?) much more.


"Added to this week's welter of populism was the end of the "elf and safety culture", with Lord Young's report. No more (mythical) officials banning conker fights. It will take a while longer for the first victim of a drunk driver to find that even for paralysis of a bread-winner maximum damages will now be capped at £25,000, to the delight of the insurance industry."

Polly Toynbee guardian.co.uk, Friday 15 October 2010


"Examine the option of extending the upper limit for road traffic accident personal injury claims to £25,000."

"The Prime Minister and the Cabinet have accepted all of the recommendations put forward by Lord Young."


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Sorry yes I have now seen the possibility of extending this to other personal injury claims in the full report.


It looks to me that they are taking about making a simplified and fixed cost claims procedure for those claims that are going to be under a certain figure. It looks more like a threshold than a cap.


Lazy journalism strikes again.

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Having read the full report, I can find no mention of the police not being held accountable for actions at football matches or suspected terrorists at tube stations. What is there is regarding them not being investigated under H+S legislation. Doesn't say anything about any other legal framework.


If an officer hits an innocent bystander during a riot and it was deemed inappropriate, then they will probably be charged with ABH. What they won't be charged with is not putting foam padding round their riot stick in case they hit the wrong person under HSaW.


On the whole, this report is positive and a major step forward. Now all they need to do is come up with a way of stopping the Polly Toynbees of this country not doing their job properly or more likely mischievously misreporting it to try and undermine.


Have a go at the Lords and politicians all you like but most of the reports like this are heavily consulted upon with ordinary folks who work in those sectors. They don't get it right every time but then who does?


It's about time somebody told the local authorities to stop applying regulations designed for oil rigs and construction sites to schools and the local chip shop!!!

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