The legal landscape governing health and safety is changing – are you prepared?

When it comes to investing in effective health and safety management, it is worth remembering that any failings can be costly. Good health and safety pays, so putting in place control measures and training early on could help you maximise your company’s potential. But if things go wrong, are you prepared for the challenges which may come your way?

Errol Taylor, RoSPA's Deputy Chief Executive

Errol Taylor, RoSPA's deputy chief executive.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents will host a health and safety legal seminar titled Getting It Right When It All Goes Wrong at Prospero House, in Central London, on March 28. The one-day seminar, chaired by RoSPA’s deputy chief executive, Errol Taylor, will feature expert guidance from nationally recognised speakers from top law firms, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and RoSPA. They will speak on the changing legal landscape governing health and safety regulation and enforcement.

A number of key questions will be answered including:

  • How exposed to prosecution are you?
  • Attitudes to crisis management – how prepared would you be in the event of a major accident?
  • Facing the challenges and defence of compensation claims – are you prepared?
  • How to use health and safety failure as a springboard for change?

RoSPA’s mission is to “save lives and reduce injuries” by leading the way on accident prevention. As a 95-year-old safety charity, we continue to stress the importance of how good health and safety is an indispensible part of business success. There’s no time like the present to begin tackling potential safety and health issues and making steps towards taking control of your company’s future – especially when trading conditions are tough and financial losses due to accidents cannot be made good through increased sales and turnover.

James Wolfe, deputy director of the DWP, will help delegates untangle the “Red Tape Challenge” by asking: “Does health and safety management get in the way of productivity?” He will also question whether legislative simplification is possible while maintaining standards and will then lay out priorities and the Government’s next steps.

symbols of law legal structure for health and safetyDelegates will also hear from Stephen Climie, a barrister with Outer Temple Chambers. He will lift the lid on what implications the Government-commissioned Löfstedt Review will have on health and safety regulation and inspections. The review confirmed that the present legal structure for health and safety is broadly fit for purpose – and says the challenge now is to embed a proportionate approach to accident and ill health prevention across the entire health and safety system.

Here at RoSPA, we are particularly pleased that Löfstedt seems to have taken on board many of the key points which we highlighted in our submission of evidence, including the simplification of the Woolf records issue – a massive paper chase in many businesses. RoSPA welcomes the report’s proposals for bringing local authority enforcement under the control of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and is also pleased that it identifies the very significant influence that third party “semi-regulators”, such as insurers, clients and funders, can have on duty holders.

colleagues in hard hats occupational safetyThere is a continuing focus on the health and safety responsibilities of directors and senior managers in the private, public and voluntary sectors. Mr Climie will help delegates to further understand what the first prosecutions in corporate manslaughter are telling us. Together with benchmark guidance on directors’ health and safety responsibility from the Health and Safety Executive and Institute of Directors, the fear of prosecution is serving as an even greater reminder of the importance of ensuring good health and safety practice without being unnecessarily risk averse.

Advice and information will also be at hand on how to cope with the challenges of compensation, led by Frances McCarthy, managing partner and head of personal injury at Pattinson and Brewer Solicitors. She will open up debate on the so-called “compensation culture” – is it myth or reality?

Other speakers will include Chris Morrison, a partner of Clyde & Co, who will talk on working in partnership with your insurer and Dr Simon Joyston-Bechal, partner at Pinsent Masons, who will offer practical tips on the best legal defence measures, as well as the pros and cons of appealing an enforcement notice or defending a prosecution.

There has never been a more important time to have a good public relations plan in place and there is a lot of good work that goes on behind-the-scenes. RoSPA’s head of communications Jo Bullock will share her experiences of managing communications in an ever-evolving media world and the lessons that can be learned from it. She will focus on the dos and don’ts of managing PR during a crisis; the impact of social media and our control over it; and how your actions can impact on reputation and future business.

Roger Bibbings, RoSPA's occupational safety adviser.

And to close the day, Keith Turney, managing director at Central High Rise Ltd, will provide an honest and open first-hand account of how a worker fatality and the subsequent investigation and prosecution affected an organisation and its staff. He will discuss why sometimes a good safety record is not enough and will reveal how the fatality’s causes were analysed.

I do hope that delegates find this health and safety legal seminar helpful. There will be lots of opportunities for people to feed in their views while enjoying lunch and networking. Events of this nature provide a platform from which people can keep up-to-date on important movements in the health and safety sector, as well as learning from others in a bid to improve and develop.

To find out more on the health and safety legal seminar, visit www.rospa.com/events/legal/ 

Roger Bibbings, RoSPA’s occupational safety adviser

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