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Why removing safety legislation can make things safer

Whenever new health and safety laws are brought into force, the government and industry bodies will argue that the reason is to improve people's wellbeing, and this is generally the case, but what happens when some laws are removed altogether?

The topic is one which is now up for debate, as the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has recently launched a consultative document which is seeking seeks views on whether to remove 12 legislative measures, in the form two Acts and ten Regulations.

The legislation in question is as follows:

Factories Act 1961 (FA61)

Offices, Shops & Railway Premises Act 1963 (OSRPA)

Factories Act (Docks, Building and Engineering Construction, etc) Modification Regulations 1938

Factories Act 1937 (Extension of Section 46) Regulations 1948

Factories Act 1961 and Offices, Shops and Railway Premises Act 1963 (Repeals and Modifications) Regulations 2009

Factories Act 1961 (Repeals) Regulations 1975

Factories Act 1961 etc (Metrication) Regulations 1983

Factories Act 1961 etc (Repeals and Modifications) Regulations 1974

Factories Act 1961 etc (Repeals) Regulations 1976

Offices, Shops and Railway Premises Act 1963 (Repeals and Modifications) Regulations 1974

Offices, Shops and Railway Premises Act 1963 (Repeals) Regulations 1975

Offices, Shops and Railway Premises Act 1963 etc (Repeals) Regulations 1976

Though some may argue that removing legislation could lead to workers and the public being subjected to dangers that they otherwise would not be, the HSE has moved to assure people that it believes the legislation is either redundant or has now been overtaken by more up-to-date regulations and safety laws.

Voicing opinion

Ultimately, the watchdog is enabling businesses and the public to have their say on whether the laws should be removed or changed, though the HSE has asked for people to argue the case of why the existing legislation is more effective than any subsequent Acts and regulations that cover the same industries and subjects.

This latest drive from the HSE was carried out as research for its contribution to the government's Red Tape Challenge (RTC).

"The removal of these 12 statutes (two Acts and ten Regulations) was therefore proposed as part of HSE's 'tidying up' of its legislation, subject to consideration of any legal issues, primarily the need to make any saving provisions for legislation relying on terms or conditions defined in the legislation being repealed," the watchdog stated.

Further measures

It also noted that it is planning to revoke two further sets of Regulations, whose effect is "wholly and exclusively" concerned with the repeal and revocation of health and safety legislation that was assessed as redundant; namely the Health and Safety (Repeals and Revocations) Regulations 1995 (S.I. 1995/3234), and the Health and Safety (Repeals and Revocations) Regulations 1996 (S.I. 1996/3022).

Again, the watchdog states that revoking these two regulations is a "tidying up measure", which will have no deregulatory or other substantive effect - something that will go some way to easing the concerns of those who see it simply as an act of removing protection.

The consultation follows two previously conducted in 2012, when the HSE sought views on the proposed repeal and revocation of 21 pieces of legislation, in total, and the organisation has made it clear that the steps are being taken to keep people safe, rather than the opposite.

By ensuring that the legislation is up to date and staying in line with modern working practices, employees and the public will ultimately be the ones to benefit.ADNFCR-2134-ID-801600818-ADNFCR