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Hundreds join campaign to rethink safety deregulation

27 Jun 17 Moves to fight government’s drive to sweep away UK safety regulations have been gaining support in the days since the Grenfell Tower fire.

The Grenfell Tower fire has fuelled demands for a rethink on attitudes to safety regs
The Grenfell Tower fire has fuelled demands for a rethink on attitudes to safety regs

More than 700 organisations and individuals have now signed an open letter to prime minister Theresa May which challenges deregulation of health and safety.

In the wake of the Grenfell Tower blaze, global health and safety professionals, leading academics and some MPs have joined leading organisations in signing the letter.

The letter sent to 10 Downing Street on Wednesday 21 June called for a shift in politicians’ attitudes towards health and safety regulation and fire risk management in the aftermath of the tower block blaze that claimed at least 79 lives. [See our previous report here.]

It also urged the government to complete its review of Part B of the Building Regulations 2010 – 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 four organisations that originally signed the letter – the Institution of Occupational Safety & Health (IOSH), Park Health & Safety, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) and the British Safety Council – have now been joined by other leading professional bodies.

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They include the Association for Project Safety (APS), Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH), International Institute of Risk & Safety Management (IIRSM), National Examination Board in Occupational Safety & Health (NEBOSH), Trades Union Congress (TUC), and the Unite union.

Even the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA), which usually lobbies against rules and regulations, has now signed the letter.

Before it was sent, the total number of signatories reached 70. In just two days, this has now increased to over 700.

The letter was the initiative of Lawrence Waterman, of Park Health & Safety Partnership, who was previously in charge of health and safety for the London Olympic Delivery Authority. He said: “Over the last few days, we’ve seen organisations review and recalibrate their buildings’ fire protection arrangements, post-Grenfell Tower. In effect, Grenfell has raised doubts in the minds of the decent-minded over whether building safety regulations are stringent enough, whether the government is setting the bar too low. And that’s why we, in the safety sector, want Theresa May and her ministers to rethink their ‘one in, three out’ approach to deregulation that includes health and safety.

 “We’re very willing indeed to sit down with the government to help ensure it promotes smart safety regulations that protect people without being overly burdensome – but it’s time to scrap the red tape initiative.”

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