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Health and safety review

Health and safety

Lord Young, the Prime Minister's adviser on health and safety law and practice, issued his long awaited report Common Sense Common Safety last Friday (15 October). St John Ambulance has commented on its findings.

The report follows a Whitehall-wide review of the operation of health and safety laws and the growth of compensation culture. It aims to not only improve the perception of health and safety but to also ensure that it is taken seriously by employers and the general public.

Included in Lord Young's recommendations is the:

Ensuring that trained and qualified professionals are the only people to determine the risks should help redress the balance, as should simple procedures for lower risk activities.

Sue Killen
CEO, St John Ambulance
  • Introduction of a Good Samaritan Clause, to make it clear that people will not be held liable for any consequences due to well-intentioned voluntary actions on their part
  • Professionalization of health and safety consultants, with a qualification requirement that all consultants should be accredited to professional bodies
  • Simplifying of risk assessments for low hazard workplaces to make it easier for organisations to understand regulations and implement them.

Our comments

As the nation's leading first aid and health and safety organisation, St John Ambulance knows that the right approach to health and safety saves lives as Sue Killen, CEO, explains: 'We've all read the 'health and safety gone mad' stories where guidance is misinterpreted or taken to the extreme, perhaps because people are worried about potential legal action.

'Ensuring that trained and qualified professionals are the only people to determine the risks should help redress the balance, as should simple procedures for lower risk activities. Over 150 people died at work in 09/10 compared to 178 the previous year, which shows the effectiveness of good health and safety practices and that this is a matter that needs to be taken seriously.

'Our own data shows that a quarter (24%) of people would do nothing when faced with an emergency situation. We can improve that situation by encouraging more people to learn first aid skills and empowering them to care for those around them, so that they can be the difference between life and death. We strongly believe that clarity about the status of Good Samaritans will remove some of the final barriers discouraging people to administer first aid, who perhaps fear legal action. Any person acting reasonably, within their competency, and in good faith should be able to come to the aid of a person without fear of prosecution.

'We look forward to seeing what comes out of this review and how it will help reduce unnecessary deaths.'