Monday, 9 January 2012

Health and Safety Update

General Update December 2011

The Purple Guide HSG 195

The Purple Guide has been in the process of revision over the last few years by HSE working through the Events Industry Forum (EIF)1.  This year the proposed draft was put out to consultation.  Our view was that it was a flawed document which, whilst it claimed to be widely applicable in the events industry, was in reality written by and for the outdoor entertainments events industry.  One only has to look at the membership of the EIF to see why.  We commented on all of the sections and encouraged our clients to comment on sections which would affect them.  Most event industry operations and safety professionals appear to have agreed with us and the draft document has now been officially withdrawn by the HSE.  The fundamental mistake was the failure by the EIF to recognise that other parts of the events industry have already developed guidance, not least the eGuide, which was not referenced in the draft.  The HSE will now create an ‘event safety micro site’ on HSE's website for the events industry in general, and handover responsibility for redrafting the revised Purple Guide to the EIF.  An important development is recognition by the HSE and the EIF of the existence of the eGuide and an undertaking to take account of it in the new revised Purple Guide.  Chris Skeith and the AEV will monitor its development as will we at X-Venture.

Health and Safety Enforcement and the Löfstedt Review

The concession regarding the Purple Guide may turn out to be a pyrrhic victory if we do not keep an eye on the bigger picture regarding how health and safety is regulated and enforced in the events industry.  The 2012 Olympics have awakened an interest by the HSE in the events industry generally, notwithstanding their involvement in the Purple Guide.  Previous updates have covered the potential for problems with parts of Construction Design Management Regulations (CDM) which is enforced by the HSE being applicable to events and exhibitions.  There has also been increasing interest by the HSE in temporary and demountable structures.

The recently published Löfstedt Review2 included the observation that splitting enforcement between the HSE for high risk industries, and the local authorities for other businesses and undertakings has led to an inconsistent approach.  The review recommends the following on page 87 of the report:

I recommend that legislation is changed to give HSE the authority to direct all local authority health and safety inspection and enforcement activity, in order to ensure that it is consistent and targeted towards the most risky workplaces.

The review lists those activities which are enforced by the local authorities and those which are enforced by the HSE. Whilst the idea of better regulation which was a key aim of the review is to be welcomed, it is a concern that the report does not cite event and exhibitions as falling under local authority jurisdiction which indicates that our interests have not been considered.  We should be concerned because events and exhibitions would easily fall within the ‘most risky workplaces’ being targeted.

There is no indication of an HSE campaign to tighten the regulatory screws on the events and exhibitions industry per se; however an holistic view of recent developments does give cause for concern.  The sight of an approaching local authority enforcement officer at an event was never necessarily welcome, but it should always be remembered that these are local officers who usually understand the events they are visiting and have a working relationship with the venue or event management team.  Contrast this with a visit from an HSE inspector who would not differentiate between a construction site and an event build up and it is easy to see how this could cause problems.

We will be commenting on the Löfstedt Review as a whole in a separate update.

Second Case of Corporate Manslaughter – Lion Steel

Lion Steel Equipment is being prosecuted for the death of a worker who fell from height.  Three of its directors are being prosecuted for manslaughter by gross negligence and also face charges under section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work Act.  We will follow this case in a future update.

RIDDOR

From September 2011 only fatalities and major injuries can be reported by phone to the HSE.  All other reports must be on line at www.hse.gov.uk/forms/incident.  The Lord Young report last year contained a specific recommendation to extend the reporting of minor injuries colloquially known as the ‘three day RIDDOR’ from three days to seven days. This will bring the law in line with the requirement to

provide a ‘fit note’ for absence from work from a GP after seven days off sick.



Comment



We are often contacted for advice with regards to changes in the law but as this update ably demonstrates, it is not so much the law itself but how it is applied and enforced that should be of concern. 

Simon Garrett
MA CMIOSH MIIRSM Dip2.OSH

This and other updates and comment can be viewed on our blog at http://x-ventureblog.blogspot.com






Notes

1.     The Events Industry Forum is an informal body which meets twice a year to provide a gathering where events industry trade associations and similar bodies can meet to discuss issues of common interest.  www.eventsindustryforum.co.uk

2.     In March 2011, the Government established an Independent Review of Health and Safety legislation to make proposals for simplifying the existing raft of health and safety legislation. The review considered the opportunities for reducing the burden of health and safety legislation on UK businesses while maintaining the progress made in improving health and safety outcomes. This review was chaired by leading risk management specialist Professor Ragnar Löfstedt.  The Professor and advisory panel asked all interested parties to provide evidence to help inform the scope for reducing the burden of health and safety regulation on UK businesses whilst maintaining health and safety outcomes.  The report "Reclaiming health and safety for all: An independent review of health and safety regulation" was published on 28 November 2011.




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