Wednesday, 00.01 am, 15 Sept 2004
Safety Policies inconsistent with research
new report concludes
Central planks of the Government/Health and Safety
Commission's current health and safety strategy are
"inconsistent with the national and international
published research on the most effective strategies
to improve worker and public safety, says a
report published today by the Centre for Corporate
The report, "Making Companies Safe: What Works?"
raises serious questions about the Governments
claimed commitment to pursue policies that are evidence-based.
The 120 page report is being published on the morning
of the TUC debate on health and safety, Wednesday,
15 September 2004. It was published with the support
of the trade union Amicus,
Last year 235 workers and 95 members of the public
died in premises regulated by either the Health and
Safety Executive or Local Authorities. 29,500 workers
suffered major injuries.
The purpose of the report was to consider whether
published research supported two recent significant
shifts in Government/HSC policy:
decision not to impose legal safety duties upon
company directors, and to rely instead on voluntary
guidance to persuade directors to change the way
they deal with safety;
new strategy, in relation to existing health and
safety law, of moving away from using formal enforcement
mechanisms (like inspections, investigations and
prosecutions) to new ways of securing compliance
Bergman, Director of the CCA stated:
report makes clear that legislation on directors
duties would have significant benefits for health
and safety. It also shows that rather than reducing
current levels of inspection and enforcement, as
HSE are planning, standards of health and safety
would be improved by increasing the number of inspections,
investigations, and prosecutions that the HSE undertakes.
We hope that the Government and the HSE will read
this report and, in light of the national and international
research, reconsider some of its recent policy decisions.
relation to the first shift, the report states that:
All the major reviews of the international
literature conclude that the most important driver
of management action to improve occupational health
and safety performance is legal regulation. This
finding is mirrored in the UK research, where the
need to comply with the law was the most commonly
cited reason for health and safety initiatives amongst
all sizes of organisations. .. [W]holly voluntary
approaches in the form of voluntary codes
of conduct for example are largely ineffective
in bringing about improved standards of health or
relation to the second shift, the report states:
HSE proposals to shift resources away from front-line
inspection, investigation and enforcement activity
are contrary to the evidence which strongly suggests
that HSE could have a significantly greater impact
by increasing inspection and enforcement activity.
report was researched and written by Dr Courtney Davis,
CCAs Deputy Director who is also a research
fellow at the University of Sussex.
report's conclusions reflects those of the Select
Committee on Work and Pensions which stated that the
HSE should double the number of inspectors and increase
its enforcement activities.
Funding for the research and writing of this report
came from the Joseph Rowntrees Charitable Trust.
press release is available from its press office in
Brighton, see below
Notes to Editors
HSC/HSE new strategy on health and safety was
published earlier this year. It is called: A
Strategy for workplace health and safety in Great
Britain to 2010 and beyond. It can be downloaded
here. Another document that sets out HSC/E's
new thinking is contained in a document written
by the HSE's Deputy Director-General, Justin McCracken.
It can be downloaded by clicking
read about the issue of directors Duties, click
read what the recent Select Committee on Work
and Pensions said about the HSC/HSE, click
Centre for Corporate Accountability is a not-for-profit
organisation concerned with worker and public
safety. It runs a Work-Related Death Advice Service
for families bereaved from work-related deaths
on investigation and prosecution issues following
the death. The CCA also undertakes research on
law enforcement and corporate accountability issues.
It has charitable status.
- Press Inquiries
7 490 4494 (office)
Centre for Corporate Accountability