Industry eye

From 1 October, simplified RIDDOR regulations will come into force. But that's not necessarily good news for construction.

The aim of the new Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) is to simplify things. So a shorter list of 'specified injuries' replaces the list of 'major injuries' given in RIDDOR 1995; the list of 47 industrial diseases is replaced by eight categories of work-related illness; and there are fewer types of 'near misses' to be reported.

The revision comes as a result of recommendations from risk management specialist Professor Ragnar Löfstedt who carried out a review of all health and safety regulations in 2011 and reported his findings in 'Reclaiming health and safety for all: an independent review of health and safety legislation'. HSE commissioned the review in response to calls from some organisations which said that the regulatory burden on businesses was too high.

However, the simplifications to RIDDOR do not go as far as originally intended. The plan was to remove the requirement to report on most industrial diseases.

The HSE board overturned this decision at the beginning of this year. There had been a backlash from occupational health organisations who protested that without this requirement, information regarding occupational diseases such as occupational cancers, hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) and occupational asthma would be completely lost.

That seems to be a good decision. But looking at the changes that are coming in, the potential impacts for the construction industry appear negative rather than positive.

One benefit claimed by the HSE is that the simplifications will result in savings to business of £5.9m over 10 years. This is a tiny figure – virtually nothing, when you consider the number of companies involved.

On the downside, the revisions may lead to complacency. The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) has pointed out that the new reporting rules could mean that health and safety performance appears to have improved when it hasn't.

Another difficulty highlighted by CIOB is that because categories have changed there will be no way to compare performance from October 2013 onwards with what has gone before. It's like going back to square one.

Construction Union UCATT is equally unimpressed. Steve Murphy, the union's general secretary said: "The reduction in the requirement to report major injuries is dangerous. Many of these types of injury are potentially life changing for those involved. If companies no longer have to report them then they are less likely to take preventive measures to stop them re-occurring."

You can find detail of the changes at the HSE's website (click here for more information) but bear in mind that they are still subject to parliamentary approval.

This article has been written for Industry Image by Kristina Smith, who is a freelance construction writer and editor.

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