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News » UK » Experts take fire extinguisher to government's bonfire of safety regs » published 22 Jun 2017

Experts take fire extinguisher to government's bonfire of safety regs

Safety professionals are urging the government to end its obsession with deregulating health and safety in the wake of the Grenfell Tower blaze.

The UK’s Conservative government has been seemingly obsessed by having a ‘bonfire of regulations’ and regards leaving the EU as an opportunity to stoke the flames, sweeping away burdensome rules that get in the way of making money.

But as a headline in the Washington Post this week puts it, The Grenfell Tower disaster gives Britain’s ‘bonfire of regulations’ a whole new meaning.

Now, a coalition of organisations – experts, admittedly, therefore decidedly out of fashion and probably unlikely to be listened to – has written an open letter to prime minister Theresa May telling her why she should now change gear.

More than 70 organisations and figures from the UK’s safety and health profession have jointly called for a political sea change in attitude towards health and safety regulation and fire risk management following the tragedy.

The collective has also pressed the government to complete its review of Part B of the Building Regulations 2010 – the regulations which cover fire safety within and around buildings in England – as a matter of urgency, and to include a focus on improved safety in the forthcoming Parliament.

The letter is signed by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), Park Health & Safety, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) and the British Safety Council.

The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH), Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA), International Institute of Risk & Safety Management (IIRSM), National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health (NEBOSH), Trades Union Congress (TUC) and Unite the union have also given it their backing, alongside senior health and safety professionals.

“We believe it is totally unacceptable for residents, members of the public and our emergency services to be exposed to this level of preventable risk in modern-day Britain,” the letter states.

“At this crucial time of national reflection and sorrow, we urge all politicians to re-emphasise the need for effective health and safety regulation and competent fire risk management. These are fundamental to saving lives and sustaining our communities.

“We believe it is vital that this disaster marks a turning point for improved fire safety awareness and wider appreciation that good health and safety is an investment, not a cost.”

In calling on the UK government to complete its review of Part B of The Building Regulations 2010, the signatories add: “Together, we offer our organisations’ support in undertaking the review – we all have valuable links to experts in this area who can advise on best regulatory outcomes. In the meantime, we welcome the government’s commitment to act and to implement the interim findings of the forthcoming public inquiry.

“You have it in your power to remove immediately a further risk to people at work and outside of the workplace – unwise deregulation – which threatens public and worker safety.

“We, leaders in health and safety in the UK, call on you to scrap the government’s approach to health and safety deregulation and think again.”

 

 

The open letter, in full:

Dear Prime Minister,

There have, understandably, been strong public reactions to the terrible fire at Grenfell Tower and its tragic consequences – the largest civilian loss of life from a single event in the UK since the Hillsborough disaster.

The occupational safety and health community is deeply saddened and disturbed by the Grenfell Tower fire and all the lives it claimed. We believe it is totally unacceptable for residents, members of the public and our emergency services to be exposed to this level of preventable risk in modern-day Britain.

Central Government and the Kensington and Chelsea local authority share responsibility for building standards and their enforcement locally, as well as for the funding and management of the maintenance of social housing. These responsibilities must be backed up with good, essential regulations.

However, for many years, Ministers and others with influence over them have called for, including in health and safety, regulations to be axed as a matter of principle. Arbitrary rules were imposed to establish deregulation of health and safety, such as a requirement to abolish two health and safety regulations (and more recently, three) for any new one adopted.

This mind-set has meant that, even when it was recommended and accepted that mandatory fitting of sprinklers would make homes or schools safer, this was rejected in favour of non-regulatory action. In practice, this approach favours inaction.

Good, well-evidenced and proportionate regulations in health and safety, based on full consultation, are developed and adopted because they save lives and protect people’s health and wellbeing. They are not “burdens on business” but provide essential protection for the public from identifiable risks.

At this crucial time of national reflection and sorrow, we urge all politicians to re-emphasise the need for effective health and safety regulation and competent fire risk management. These are fundamental to saving lives and sustaining our communities.

We believe it is vital that this disaster marks a turning point for improved fire safety awareness and wider appreciation that good health and safety is an investment, not a cost.

We call on the Government to accelerate and confirm the timeframe for completing its review of Part B of The Building Regulations 2010 and to include a focus on improved safety in the forthcoming Parliament.

Together, we offer our organisations’ support in undertaking the review – we all have valuable links to experts in this area who can advise on best regulatory outcomes. In the meantime, we welcome the Government’s commitment to act and to implement the interim findings of the forthcoming public inquiry.

You have it in your power to remove immediately a further risk to people at work and outside of the workplace – unwise deregulation – which threatens public and worker safety.

We, leaders in health and safety in the UK, call on you to scrap the Government’s approach to health and safety deregulation and think again. This could be announced immediately, it does not need to await the results of a public inquiry, and is the least that the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire deserve.

Yours sincerely,

  • Lawrence Waterman, Park Health and Safety
  • Graham Parker, President, and Bev Messinger, Chief Executive, Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH)
  • Errol Taylor, Acting Chief Executive, Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA)
  • Lynda Armstrong, Chair, and Mike Robinson, Chief Executive, British Safety Council

Also supported by:

  • Anne Godfrey, Chief Executive, Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH)
  • Peter Crosland, Civil Engineering Director, Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA)
  • Siobhan Donnelly, President, and Phillip Pearson, Chief Executive, International Institute of Risk & Safety Management (IIRSM)
  • Teresa Budworth, Chief Executive, National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health (NEBOSH)
  • Hugh Robertson, Senior Health and Safety Officer, Trades Union Congress (TUC)
  • Susan Murray, National Health and Safety Adviser, Unite the union
  • Stephen Asbury CFIOSH
  • James Barnes BSc (Hons) LFOH
  • Karen Baxter CMIOSH
  • Roger Bibbings MBE
  • Joe Brannigan LLB (hons) DipLP PgDip Construction Law CMIOSH
  • Melanie Boucher, MSc CMIOSH
  • David Brown RSP FIIRSM DipNEBOSH MIOSH MILM
  • Professor Neil Budworth MSc CFIOSH FIIRSM HonFFOM
  • Dr Tim Carter
  • Iris Cepero, Editor, Safety Management magazine
  • Professor John Cherrie PhD CFFOH
  • Arnold Clements BSc, MSc CMIOSH CEng MEI
  • Philip J Cullen BSc (Hons) CMIOSH
  • Declan Davis CMIOSH
  • Brian Donnachie BA (Hons) CMIOSH
  • Phil Dyson-Hurrell MIIRSM
  • Coenraad Fourie
  • Lisa Fowlie MSc BSc CFIOSH FIIRSM
  • Shelley Frost BSc (Hons), Post Grad DipOHS, Executive Director – Policy, IOSH
  • Professor Alistair Gibb PhD CEng MICE MCIOB, Loughborough University
  • Melodie Gilbert
  • Dr David Gold PhD CMIOSH, Chair, IOSH Fire Risk Management Group
  • Robert Hackett
  • Neil Hancox CMIOSH, Managing Director, Safety Intervention Services
  • Anne Harris
  • Cllr Ali Hashem
  • Andy Hawkes, Deputy President, IIRSM
  • Angela Hayden CFIOSH
  • Clinton Horn CFIOSH
  • Andrew Hoskins MSc CMIOSH FIIRSM PIEMA
  • Chris Hughes BSc, LTT Consultancy
  • Ian Hughes MSc BSc (Hons) Cert Ed Dip2OSH SPDipEM CMIOSH
  • Kelvin Hughes CMIOSH
  • Dr Roberta Jacobson OBE
  • Clive Johnson, Council Member, IIRSM
  • Ann Jones MBE CFIOSH
  • Wayne Jones, Chair, Cardiff & South East Wales Occupational Health and Safety Group
  • Wendy Jones
  • Martin Lovegrove CMIOSH MIIRSM PIEMA
  • James McDonald BSc CMIOSH MREHIS
  • Denis Murphy CMIOSH MIIRSM RMaPS
  • Cllr Caroline Needham
  • John O’Keeffe CMIOSH
  • Shirley Parsons MSc CMIOSH
  • Louise Phillipson
  • Stu Pollard BSc, PgCert CMIOSH
  • Ian Rabett CMIOSH
  • Dylan Roberts
  • Angela Rudkin Tech IOSH
  • Mike Salmon MSc, CFIOSH
  • Jonathan Schifferes MA
  • Jim Senior CMIOSH
  • Phil Sidman MIFE, MIFPO
  • Karl Simons MSc MIoD CMIOSH
  • Dr Susan Tannahill CMIOSH
  • Mohammad Torabi BSc MSc MA CMIOSH
  • Ceiran Trow CMFOH
  • Graham Twigg MSc CMIOSH PIEMA
  • Michelle Twigg MSc CMIOSH
  • Alex Vaughan
  • Dr Emma Wadsworth, Cardiff University
  • Professor David Walters, Cardiff University
  • Louise Ward BSc (Hons) CMIOSH
  • Selina Woolcott BSc (Hons) DipOHS CMIOSH

 

 

MPU

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This article was published on 22 Jun 2017 (last updated on 26 Jun 2017).

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