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Health and safety madness

7 December 2017

For the majority of the UK’s workforce, health and safety regulations are set in place for businesses and employers to ensure a safe working environment. With perceptions of such processes seen as unnecessary, bureaucratic and a ‘burden’ on businesses, the UK government called upon Professor Ragnar Löfstedt, Director of King’s Centre for Risk Management, to provide recommendations on how regulation could be improved across the country.

Simplification and streamlining

Presented to government in 2011, the independent Löfstedt Review set out 26 recommendations of change. Importantly it stated that current regulations did not require radical changes, rather needed simplification and streamlining.

Health and safety regulation is very important, and something we should take very seriously in order to protect the workforce of this country

Professor Ragnar Löfstedt, Director of King’s Centre for Risk Management

As part of the review which received over 250 responses, Professor Löfstedt consulted interested stakeholders including employer and employee groups, local authorities, the emergency services, academics and health and safety professionals. He visited workplaces including construction sites, oil storage facilities, a kitchen cabinet manufacturer, DIY store and forest felling/lumber jacking.

What’s the risk?

Professor Löfstedt followed a risk-based approach, which accepts that no system is 100% risk free. Rather, by focusing on a few high-impact changes, decision-makers can more efficiently reduce exposure to danger.

‘Health and safety regulation is highly politicised in this country. As such for this piece of work I endeavoured to pursue a review based on solid evidence’, he said.

Following the report, which gained support amongst multiple stakeholders, the UK government responded positively.

The Minister for Employment at the time of the review’s publication stated that Professor Löfstedt’s report ‘is an important step in the Government’s ongoing efforts to put common sense back into health and safety.’

They recommended that the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) undertook a full programme of sector changes, aiming to reduce regulations by more than 50 per cent, without compromising on safety.

Following the review Professor Löfstedt continues to advise the UK and other European states on policy.

Read the full report here.

The Department of Geography welcomes collaborations with industry, government and civil society. This story is one of many case studies showing impact from the department. Find out more here.

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