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Lord Young restores common sense to health and safety and the compensation culture

CAB 170-10 
15 October 2010

Lord Young of Graffham, the Prime Minister’s Adviser on Health and Safety Law and Practice, today publishes his report Common Sense, Common Safety, examining the country’s perceived compensation culture and the impact of health and safety regulations on businesses and personal freedom.

The Prime Minister and the Cabinet have accepted all of the recommendations put forward by Lord Young, who will continue to work across departments to ensure his recommendations are carried through.

Common Sense, Common Safety puts forward a series of policies for improving the perception of health and safety, to ensure it is taken seriously by employers and the general public, while ensuring the burden on small business is as insignificant as possible. At the same time, Lord Young calls for restrictions on advertising for “no win, no fee” compensation claims and a revolution in the way personal injury claims are handled.

Among the key recommendations is to extend the simplified Road Traffic Accident Personal Injury Scheme to include other personal injury claims. This would provide a simple three-stage procedure for lower value claims, accessible via the internet, with fixed costs for each stage.

Lord Young also proposes a common sense approach to educational trips, which currently entail a plethora of forms to fill in, deterring teachers and others who work with children from arranging any trips at all. He recommends a single consent form covering all activities a child might undertake at school.

In order to ensure consistency and professionalism in implementing health and safety legislation, Lord Young has recommended that consultants who undertake workplace assessment should be professionally qualified and registered on an online database.
Responses to the Your Freedom website showed that Lord Young's recommendations echo public concerns about health and safety and the compensation culture. Contributions to the website also showed widespread misunderstandings about legislation in both areas. Lord Young's recommendations seek to clarify these misconceptions and free individuals, businesses and voluntary organisations from the climate of fear that they create.
Lord Young of Graffham said:

“For too long, health and safety has been allowed to become a joke in the media and among the public. It’s about time it was taken seriously. I believe that the best way to do this is to ease the burden in places where health and safety is not an issue, and to discourage the compensation culture that has spread fear of litigation throughout our society.

“I believe my recommendations will be an important step towards restoring civil liberties, shredding red tape and making sure that health and safety rules are properly applied and respected. I am grateful to the Prime Minister for asking me to undertake this important work, and I am pleased that he has accepted all of my suggestions.”

The Prime Minister said:

“Good health and safety is vitally important. But all too often good, straightforward legislation designed to protect people from major hazards has been extended inappropriately to cover every walk of life, no matter how low risk.
“A damaging compensation culture has arisen, as if people can absolve themselves from any personal responsibility for their own actions, with the spectre of lawyers only too willing to pounce with a claim for damages on the slightest pretext.
“We simply cannot go on like this. That’s why I asked Lord Young to do this review and put some common sense back into health and safety. And that’s exactly what he has done.”

DWP Minister Chris Grayling said:

"Lord Young’s review restores common sense to health and safety regulation and sets clear limits to what organisations and individuals need to do to manage risk.

"By reducing unnecessary red tape we can encourage businesses to come and invest in the UK, creating jobs and opportunities when we need them most."
Justice Minister Jonathan Djanogly said:

“The Government welcomes Lord Young’s call for reform of the way in which personal injury claims and other civil cases are taken before the courts.  We will be consulting shortly on how ‘no win no fee’ conditional fee agreements should be improved.”

Summary of recommendations in Lord Young’s Common Sense, Common Safety:

Compensation culture

Low hazard workplaces

Raising standards

Insurance

Education

Local authorities

Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995

Combining food safety and health and safety inspections

Adventure training

Notes to Editors

  1. Lord Young of Graffham was asked by the Prime Minister in June to undertake a review of the compensation culture and the implementation of health and safety legislation. His report, Common Sense, Common Safety, is published on the 10 Downing Street website at http://www.number10.gov.uk/news/latest-news/2010/10/lord-young-report-55605
  2. The Your Freedom website was open to public comments from 1 July to 19 September 2010, inviting everyone to provide there ideas on restoring civil liberties, repealing unnecessary laws and reducing bureaucracy. These ideas are being examined by officials and ministers across government and factored into policymaking decisions.
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