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HSE's 40-year-old Act's rules are founded on common sense, but they’ve been hijacked by jobsworths

HSE's 40-year-old Act's rules are founded on common sense, but they’ve been hijacked by jobsworths

26 June 2014 Email this article

Health and Safety at Work Act, which is 40 years old this summer, has arguably saved more lives than any other piece of legislation, including the ban on drink driving or the compulsory wearing of seat belts in cars. It may well have reduced deaths by 5,000 or more. Writes the Telegraph.

So how did an Act that was by any measure a milestone in social reform turn into one of the most disparaged statutes of recent times? Partly it has to do with the way the law is interpreted – and often wrongly blamed for absurd restrictions imposed on perfectly innocuous practices.

Before the Act, 700 employees were dying every year on average and hundreds of thousands were being injured. Last year, the number of fatalities at work was down to 148 and non-fatal injuries have dropped by more than 75 per cent. Even for those of us who balk at excessive regulation, that is a considerable achievement, not least when you think that 500 workers have died on construction sites in Qatar since 2012, building the infrastructure for the World Cup in 2022. 

Read the full article in the Telegraph