Young Review: Predictable, but still a disappointment
After much anticipation, Lord Young’s review’s of health and safety is out this morning. His recommendations are as predictable (indeed every bit as predictable as we’d predicted), but they still manage to be a grave disappointment all the same.
The report contains not a single proposal that will reduce the high levels of workplace death, injuries and illness. Every year in the UK over 20,000 people die prematurely as a result of their work and at any one time over two million people are suffering ill-health because of their jobs.
Yet instead of looking for ways of preventing people being killed and injured, the report uncritically accepts the myths and preconceptions surrounding health and safety, and focuses on dealing with a compensation culture which the Government accepts does not exist.
Health and safety is not a throwback to a previous century, or an issue that only affects heavy industry. It is just as much an issue for offices and shops – workplaces that Lord Young dismisses as “low risk”, despite the evidence of high levels of work-related ill-health in these sectors.
All workers and their families depend on health and safety to keep them safe and well. They also need assurances that, when workers are killed or made ill because of their work, the culprits will be brought to justice.
This report is a missed opportunity to improve the UK’s workplace safety record. But by failing to challenge the myths around health and safety it could actually make things much worse.