The top 10 health and safety changes heading your way

4 mins read

Health and safety protocol is in the midst of its biggest shake up since the 1970s. Max Gosney wades through a daunting pile of revisions, removals and recommendations to tell you what to watch out for

1 Crucial legal defence to be scrapped Not since Perry Mason took to the stand have court rooms seen a legal defence tool to rival the Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) for the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. The ACOP (L21) is a manufacturing manager's trump card – a legally recognised best practice benchmark for complying with the regulations. Prove you followed it and you have a powerful parry against prosecution, explains Richard Jones, head of policy at IOSH. "If you can stand up and say, 'we did everything the Approved Code of Practice said', then you would be deemed to have done all that was reasonably practicable." But the lifeline is about to be lost. The management ACOP is due to be ditched by HSE this summer in place of online guidance that won't carry the same punch, adds Jones. "It won't have the same quasi legal status; it won't give the same assurances to an employer." IOSH has hit back with a 9,000-strong online petition demanding a government U-turn. Add your backing at 2 All change for RIDDOR Last year's big RIDDOR news was a relaxation in reporting requirements. Manufacturers now only have to notify HSE of employee absences of over seven days rather than three. The story of 2013 will be simplification. The categories for declaring ill health will be consolidated to six main areas: hand arm vibration syndrome, carpel tunnel, dermatitis, severe arm cramp, tendonitis and occupational asthma. The list of dangerous occurrences and major injuries will also be simplified, with changes due this October. The move follows criticism of the old reporting framework as cumbersome, inconsistent and likely to cause confusion. More details at 3 First-aid training reform Factory first aiders will no longer require HSE approval of their training and qualifications from October. The stipulation was criticised as unjustified and onerous by the Löfstedt review. Businesses should be free to choose their training provider, the independent review claimed. Yet free market economics are fraught with danger, according to some experts. "First aid at work is too important to get it wrong," says Jones of IOSH. "There's nothing to stop lots of small training providers setting up to undercut the big guys like British Red Cross and St John Ambulance. They may have people who are completely unapproved and delivering sub-standard training." More details: 4 PUWER in the spotlight The Spice Girls are not the only late 90s act enjoying something of a renaissance. The 1998 PUWER regulations governing the safe use of work equipment are an increasing focus for HSE, according to safety consultants. Tony Reynolds, compliance manager at Lorien Engineering Solution, says: "We've found HSE are looking at factories in a lot more detail on machine safety. Employers need to check PUWER regulations. They've been around for a while, but some people are not doing proper risk assessments." Pay particular attention to PUWER when you are moving manufacturing lines, warns Reynolds. "When manufacturers relocate or reorganise lines, it's essential to do a PUWER assessment... I've been on a line where machines have been installed up against each other, blocking access to an emergency stop button." For more, see 5 Slimming down of ACOPs Everywhere you look, HSE is putting ACOPs on a diet. Five guidance documents on the Dangerous Substances and Explosives Atmospheres will become one; two asbestos ACOPs become one; and twin ACOPs on gas safety are also set to merge. HSE is also proposing to limit all ACOP documents to 32 pages, to the dismay of printer ink cartridge manufacturers across the land. The slim-down follows heavy criticism from Löfstedt about the weight of documents. Guidance on legionella bucks the trend and will increase to two documents, with part one explaining legal requirements and part two covering technical detail. More info: 6 You can keep your hat on It's a case of plus ça change with requirements for hard hats during any construction work at your factory. The Head Protection Regulations (HPR) 1989 were scrapped this April. But the duty to wear hard hats remains under the Personal Protective Equipment regs, HSE stresses. HPR was one of 13 regulations deemed to have been superseded by other more recent rulings and culled. 7 Temperature and lighting guidance Factory thermostats should be set to a minimum of 16°°C according to a revised ACOP (L24) on meeting Workplace (Health Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992. The advised minimum temperature is not applicable in areas where it would be impractical, such as food chilling. HSE has declined to set a maximum temperature, claiming there is "insufficient evidence" to support this. The revised ACOP is due this November and also covers changes to guidance on lighting, the condition of factory floors and traffic routes. Comment on the consultation at: 8 Toilet talk The safety expectations of the site manager on the shopfloor are well versed, but responsibilities over the bathroom floor less so. The L24 ACOP will flush out revised health and safety expectations in unsung factory areas like toilets and showers later this year. Guidance includes making sure you fit showers with a thermostatic mixer valve to prevent workers scalding themselves. An additional toilet should be installed for every 25 people you employ above 100. See the proposals at 9 Fee for Intervention powers Industry is still feeling the churn of Fee for Intervention powers that allow HSE to bill manufacturers £124 an hour for investigations uncovering a material breach of the law. Site managers have cried foul, accusing HSE of money spinning by adopting an enforcement-first approach. HSE stresses law-abiding companies have nothing to fear from FFI. The story is set to run over the coming months, with FFI due for its first annual review this October. For more, see 10 Change is the only constant Health and safety changes don't begin and end with this top 10 guide. Over 3,000 regulations will be flagged for scrapping or overhaul by December as a result of the government's Red Tape Challenge. Downing Street has proclaimed a great victory. However, a glance at the burgeoning list of consultations on the HSE website over the past 18 months suggests a very different outcome. Too much, too soon, is creating a head spin at grassroots level, warns Jones. "If there is a lot of change at once, that creates a burden on organisations," he warns. "We responded to 65 consultations last year. The Löfstedt and Young reports are being rushed through at a ferocious pace. There's no need: it will just confuse people." Make sure you keep on top of all the latest health and safety changes at Löfstedt and Young reviews David Cameron commissioned Lord Young to look at health and safety law and the growth of the compensation culture in 2010. Professor Ragnar Löfstedt was tasked with looking into reducing the regulatory burden of health and safety in 2011. Both reports made sweeping recommendations that continue to reverberate. Read the Young report at Read the Löfstedt review at