Are You Receiving the Correct Advice?

We have all read media stories about health and safety gone mad.  That playing conkers has been banned along with firemen's poles and hanging baskets.  I am sure you have also seen businesses displaying excessive safety signs, or have been asked to prepare pages and pages of risk assessments before being allowed to carry out a simple and low risk task.  Whilst health and safety is often cited as the reason for the decision, the real reason is often nothing to do with health and safety legislation.  This inappropriate use of health and safety provides the media with a means of trivialising the subject, and the excellent work carried out by countless individuals on a daily basis which enables employees to return home in one piece at the end of the day is ignored.  Unfortunately, the power of the media is such that publication of these stories detracts from the serious nature of the subject and only serves to confuse businesses about their health and safety responsibilities and employees about their rights.

It has been recognised that businesses in the UK are becoming burdened by workplace health and safety legislation, which is not surprising given that there are approximately 200 statutory instruments at present.  In March of this year, the UK Minister for Employment, Chris Grayling, announced that Prof Löfstedt would chair an independent review of health and safety legislation which is regarded as the UK’s biggest review of workplace health and safety in a generation.  This review will consider the scope for combining, simplifying or reducing the number of statutory instruments.

The outcome of this review is eagerly awaited by many, not least of all, health and safety professionals.  It is usually not the health and safety law itself which is at fault, but the way in which it is interpreted by the employer.  This is where health and safety consultants can provide valuable assistance to employers in developing systems and solutions which are proportionate to the risks.

Although some employers do not need external health and safety advice to help them comply with their legal obligations, there are many businesses which have identified a need for access to competent advice.  Up until recently, the selection of a suitable consultant was a potential minefield for an employer who would often find it difficult to properly assess the competency of potential candidates due to their own lack of health and safety knowledge.  This has resulted in poorly qualified consultants providing inappropriate advice which in some cases has had catastrophic consequences for the businesses concerned.  This situation has improved as it was recognised in the report ‘Common Sense, Common Safety’ which was published in October 2010 following a review of health and safety undertaken by Lord Young, that health and safety consultants should be professionalised by accreditation to a professional body.  Following acceptance of this report by the UK Government the Occupational Safety and Health Consultants Register (OSHCR) (, was launched in January 2011.

Consultants wishing to join this register must prove that they can meet strict eligibility criteria.  They must belong to a professional body, have a degree-level qualification, have at least two years’ experience in the industry and have demonstrated a commitment to continuing their professional development. 

The introduction of this register is a huge step forward in raising the level of professionalism within the health and safety industry.  It provides businesses who are seeking extra support with confidence that the person they are engaging to provide them with health and safety services is competent to do so and that they will be receive sensible, proportionate and informed advice on health and safety.

Any business which is looking to engage external health and safety services should ensure that proper checks are made on the competency of the individuals who will be providing the service to them.  The introduction of the Occupational Health and Safety Consultants Register has provided employers with a quick and easy route for obtaining reassurance.


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Coppolo & Coyde Limited
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Envoy House
St Peter Port

T: 01481 237711

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