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    HSE TO HELP DITCH ‘UNNECESSARY PAPERWORK’

    Board considers forthcoming HSE guidance on navigating H&S rules

    HSE defines Blue Tape as health and safety ‘rules’ or obligations imposed by businesses or business intermediary organisations and not by Government.

    On the 12th June the HSE board met to consider an HSE internal report on Blue Tape and the way forward proposed by the regulator.

    The report draws together dedicated extensive in-house HSE research; desk-top research, including 70+ reviews of guidance, reports, articles and similar from business bodies, government, trade press and academia; and engagement with businesses, trade associations, standards and professional bodies, consultants, accreditation and auditing bodies, insurers, and parts of the Trade Union and legal communities

    Key findings

    The board heard that the report finds:

    • health and safety burden is not a problem for the majority of businesses (70%), and most feel that the policies and procedures they have to have in place are sensible and proportionate relative to the risks within their business
    • A substantial proportion of SMEs do report a considerable health and safety burden in that the policies and procedures they have to have in place are excessive and disproportionate (39%) and that there is no real link between what they have to do for health and safety and actually keeping employees safe (35%).
    • 39% of businesses reported feeling that taking responsibility for health and safety just feels like more and more paperwork, with no obvious health and safety benefit

    Businesses see a continuing role for HSE in challenging poor practices and have been supportive of HSE scrutiny in this area. The paper provided to the HSE Board concludes:

    “Forthcoming HSE guidance on navigating the rules will be an important component in driving reform, and in giving businesses the confidence to dispense with unnecessary paperwork.

    Key will be developing a system-wide understanding of what good/proportionate use of rules looks like, with examples of good/bad practice.

    Sharing our understanding of this with health and safety professionals at the ‘sharp end’ of putting it into practice with the SMEs most affected by the current rules culture will also be important.”

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