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UK Government urged to end health and safety deregulation following Grenfell Tower blaze

Published: 28 June 2017 - Sarah Mead

The UK Government has been urged to scrap its approach to deregulation of health and safety legislation in the light of the Grenfell Tower blaze.

In an open letter to Prime Minister Theresa May, over 70 leading 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, is as follows:

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,

 

Park Health and Safety
Lawrence Waterman OBE

Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH)
Graham Parker, President
Bev Messinger, Chief Executive

Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA)
Errol Taylor, Acting Chief Executive

British Safety Council
Lynda Armstrong OBE, Chair
Mike Robinson, Chief Executive

Also supported by:

Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH)
Anne Godfrey, Chief Executive

Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA)
Peter Crosland, Civil Engineering Director

International Institute of Risk & Safety Management (IIRSM)
Siobhan Donnelly, President
Phillip Pearson, Chief Executive

National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health (NEBOSH)
Teresa Budworth, Chief Executive

Trades Union Congress (TUC)
Hugh Robertson, Senior Health and Safety Officer

Unite the union
Susan Murray, National Health and Safety Adviser
 

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



 
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