Construction health and safety regulations need to be made clearer to reduce the burden of bureaucracy, Lord Young has recommended in his government-commissioned review.
He said he had received numerous complaints about the difficulty of understanding existing regulations, with the Institute of Civil Engineers pointing out that interpreting the term “reasonably practicable” was a major burden and cost for the industry.
Lord Young has recommended changing the current RIDDOR reporting system, where a construction company must report any accident which results in a three-day absence for a worker. He would like to see the threshold increased to seven days.
He also wants a greater role for the Health & Safety Executive as a safety regulator.
Lord Young said the HSE had proposed the introduction of minimum qualification standards for safety consultants. He wants the organisation to become a validation body for setting these standards before handing the scheme over to a self-financing independent professional body once it has been established.
He added there was a need for more detailed, targeted advice on interpreting regulations and carrying out risk assessments, particular for small companies.
Lord Young said: ”For too long, health and safety has been allowed to become a joke in the media and among the public. It’s about time it was taken seriously.
“I believe that the best way to do this is to ease the burden in places where health and safety is not an issue, and to discourage the compensation culture that has spread fear of litigation throughout our society.
“I believe my recommendations will be an important step towards restoring civil liberties, shredding red tape and making sure that health and safety rules are properly applied and respected.”