Monday, 17 October 2011

Why Young is wrong on health and safety

It is getting a little old now, but here is my letter, published in the Law Society Gazette on 25 November 2010, on the Health and Safety fallacy.
Lord Young has resigned from his post as adviser to the prime minister following his ill-conceived statement that ‘the vast majority of people in the country today... have never had it so good ever since this... so-called recession started’.

Of course, Lord Young has also recently published his report on health and safety regulations, which chastises ‘compensation culture’ and describes the operation of health and safety law as a ‘music hall joke’.
Lord Young’s comments about the ‘so-called recession’ show ignorance of the reality of the economic situation. Low interest rates may benefit new homeowners, and some of those who are more comfortable financially, but the majority are faced with rising food prices, benefit cuts and redundancies.

The same lack of understanding pervades his review of health and safety legislation. The government’s own statistics show there are fewer claims brought now than there were 10 years ago. Employers are mostly subject to safety requirements that are grounded in common sense and which dictate that employers must act only so far as is reasonably practicable. The main beneficiaries of the proposed cuts to health and safety requirements are the employers themselves – by and large the same people who are having a ‘good recession’.

If Lord Young’s recommendations are followed then things might get better for those who ‘have never had it so good’, but this will be at the expense of the majority.

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