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Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

HSR1 Government policy

Government policy
Changes in policy
As noted at [HSIntro.02(1)], the general administrative effect of the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 (HSEA92) was to repeal and consolidate existing occupational safety and health (OSH) legislation — Acts, regulations and codes of practice — into regulations and codes of practice under a single Act, enforced through a single government agency (the Department of Labour). The Act also signalled a move in emphasis from prescriptive standards to performance standards and the more “self-regulating” approach of the legislative model in the United Kingdom's 1972 Robens Report (see [HSIntro.01]).
During the development of the HSEA92, the then Government decided to take a two-step approach. The first stage was to be the ‘rolling over’ of technical standards contained in legislation repealed by the new Act into an initial set of regulations under the new Act. The second stage was to be a substantive review of these initial regulations, to provide greater consistency with the philosophy and framework of the Act.
In July 1994 the Minister of Labour announced a policy change, which can be summarised as follows:
The previously proposed general workplace, construction, machinery, agriculture and forestry regulations would no longer proceed.
The proposed hazardous equipment, mining administration and control, petroleum and tractor safety frames regulations would continue to be developed under the rollover process. (Note: The regulations previously to be called “hazardous equipment” regulations would now be called “pressure equipment, cranes, and passenger ropeways” regulations.)
The Government no longer intended to complete the rollover of previous OSH legislation into regulations under the HSEA92.
Instead the Government would promulgate a core set of regulations under the HSEA92.
The regulations would be passed for the purposes of:
Providing for matters not specifically addressed in the Act (eg age restrictions and notification of particular types of hazardous work).
Reducing compliance costs by (a) making clearer any general provisions of the Act, and (b) setting minimum standards for particular hazards where alternative control measures are not always effective.
The provisions of previous regulations not included in the new regulations would be issued as OSH guidelines and would be available to the courts in the event of a prosecution. These guidelines might, in the medium term, be turned into approved codes of practice under the HSEA92.
The 1996 report of Parliament's Labour Select Committee, Inquiry into the Administration of Occupational Safety and Health Policy, noted that codes were universally seen as valuable in providing key details of how to deliver health and safety in specific places of work or process circumstances, but that there was a divergence on whether these should be mandatory, purely voluntary, or have an intermediate “approved” status. The report also noted “the clear view … that more are urgently needed and that OSH should devote considerably more administrative and technical resources to this end”.
NOHSAC critique
In a 2008 report to the Minister of Labour, Review of the key characteristics that determine the efficacy of OHS instruments (available at <>), the former National Occupational Health and Safety Advisory Committee (NOHSAC) was critical that the new regulatory model had been introduced without a continued commitment to provide workplaces with approved codes of practice and guidance material, or a framework for the development and assessment of the efficacy of the limited range of material produced.
NOHSAC made several recommendations for action at 17–20 of the report:
The Department of Labour, as the regulator and lead agency for the “Workplace Health and Safety Strategy”, must provide workplaces with current approved codes of practice and guidance material designed to encourage and facilitate compliance and support best practice.
Approved codes of practice and other guidance material must be developed in response to considered analysis of current workplace exposures, emerging issues, and in conjunction with the surveillance of occupational disease and injury.
Lead OSH agencies must attract and maintain a core of specialist health and safety staff with relevant knowledge, skills and experience.
The Department of Labour should establish clear guidelines concerning the development of approved codes and guidance material for workplaces.
No code of practice or other guidance material should be older than 10 years from the date of publication without being reviewed for its relevance and accuracy.
Guidance material produced by agencies other than the regulator should be aligned with publications produced by the regulator. In the absence of information from the regulator, this guidance material must reflect technical information critical to the prevention of harm and be subject to the same rigour as other publications, as it is often relied upon in the workplace.
Approved codes of practice and guidance material should be used strategically by government agencies to provide advice, monitoring and enforcement when required.

From Employment Law - Occupational Safety & Health

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