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REGULATORY RED TAPE OR BUSINESS BLUE TAPE?

HSE concerned over burdens imposed by supply chain and others

The Construction Industry Advisory Committee (CONIAC) meeting on 17th August 2016 was sheduled to consider a presentation concerning ‘Blue Tape’ which is the shorthand for business to business health and safety burdens as opposed to perceived burdens from ‘Red Tape’ imposed directly by regulations and regulators.

A similar presentation was made to the HSE Small Business Trade Association Forum in June 2016 where it was explained that currently many complaints of health and safety burdens from small businesses relate to requirements placed on them through the supply chain or other third parties such as other businesses (including health and safety consultants) or insurers.

‘Challenge’ business on business burdens

HSE is looking at a number of areas including pre-qualification schemes (particularly in the construction industry), third party business advice, civil law and insurance drivers, and the impact of some management standards for smaller companies.

It was reported that:

  • Poor Advice – third party advice includes the support trade associations provide their members, along with the banking sector and consultants.  There is some very good advice being provided. However, improvements could be made and “vast improvement” is required from some consultancies providing advice for small businesses, including those services provided national consultancies. Some packages are bespoke others provide a generic template-based product whose value is questionable;
  • Pre-Qualification – HSE remains interested in pre-qualification schemes which is an area already being considered by the construction industry;
  • Management Standards – there is concern over how management standards impinge on small businesses (primarily OHSAS 18001) particularly where certification is a requirement for securing contracts with larger organisations. The proposed ISO 45001 will give rise to similar concerns.  The costs and benefits of such standards need to be known; and
  • Civil Law and Insurance – HSE is not currently looking at this very complex area of civil law and insurance but will do so in future.

HSE is gathering evidence on the above and looking for examples to “improve on current anecdotal evidence”. This work will be undertaken over the coming years and HSE are looking to all players in the health and safety system to “challenge the business on business burdens”.

Whilst HSE cannot prevent businesses buying third party services it can inform and educate those who buy them about the costs and benefits.

 

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