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EARNED AUTONOMY PLANS UNVEILED

Conservatives publish ‘HSE Lite’ plans for health and safety

Regulation in the Post Bureacratic Age, has been published by the Conservative party indicating how a future administration would “cut red tape”.

The plans have been announced by Ken Clarke, Shadow Business Secretary, who said the proposals would get rid of a “millstone around Britain’s neck”.

A key aspect is a “new model of professional co-regulation” replacing regulator-run public teams of inspectors with a model closer to financial control and audits. The proposals involve:

  • Autonomy for “well run companies” employing H&S experts with internal processes, controls and audited reports (on the accountancy model);
  • External auditing paid for by the company and reports filed with the regulator;
  • Exemption from external inspection once audit results are filed and the ability to refuse entry to HSE;

Advantages are cited as including:

  • Audited reports reducing contractual red tape and pressure from insurers for higher premiums;
  • Regulators provided with an evidence-driven way to identify lower risk organisations and target inspections elsewhere;

Comment: Proposals for ‘earned autonomy’ are nothing new. HSE considered similar arrangements for certain major well managed contractors in the early 1980’s and more recently

The performance of major contractors has improved progressively during the last 10 years with consensus that ‘H&S problems’ are now to be found on smaller minor commercial and domestic refurbishment projects. If this trend continues the call for autonomy may become stronger.

HSE has a readily available mechanism that could be used. The Corporate Health and Safety Performance Index (CHASPI) enables organisations to submit their safety management system and outcomes that are externally audited.

Difficulties will revolve around how ‘earned autonomy’ is won, or more importantly, lost. The commercial implications of losing of autonomy could be disastrous. Well run firms may therefore prefer HSE to exercise inspection discretion and ‘lite’ touch in a less transparent manner.           

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2 Responses to “EARNED AUTONOMY PLANS UNVEILED”

  1. FMB REJECT PLANS FOR ‘SELF-REGULATION’ | PP Construction Safety News Desk Says:

    […] FMB has responded to the recent announcement by the Conservative Party of greater freedom for contractors from HSE […]

  2. CONSERVATIVE PARTY PLANS FOR H&S | PP Construction Safety News Desk Says:

    […] The speech needs to be read in the context of recent conservative proposals for exemption from regulator inspection. […]