UK Moves to Simplify Health and Safety Take Effect

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is instituting changes to make health and safety laws easier to understand and improve compliance.

HSE is making signitigant changes to four regulations it enforces, which include:

• Introducing a new, easier-to-read version of the law poster that employers must display.
• Reducing the number of forms that employers must complete.
• Simplifying arrangements for the manufacture and storage of explosives.
• Aligning chemical hazard information and packaging with new EU regulations.

"We are committed to making health and safety work better for everyone," said Judith Hackitt, HSE chair. "The changes we are introducing today will help ensure that we all benefit from simpler and more effective health and safety regulation – whether that is by making the law easier to understand or getting rid of unnecessary form filling."

Hackitt said HSE has saved UK businesses more than £300 million since the agency introduced its simplification plan in 2005 and added the agency continually is looking for ways to improve.

The biggest of the changes is the introduction of new version of HSE's health and safety law poster and leaflet which will provide clearer information for workers about their right to work in places where there health and safety is properly protected. As in the United States, the posters are a fixture of every workplace in Britain – employers have a legal duty to display the poster in a prominent position or provide each worker with a copy of the leaflet outlining health and safety laws. The new easy-to-read poster and pocket cards focuses on employees and sets out in simple terms what employers and workers must do, including when there is a problem.

HSE is giving businesses 5 years to switch to the new leaflets and posters – they must be replaced by no later than April 5, 2014. Any employers who choose to keep the old poster after April 6, 2009 must make sure it is legible and keep the addresses of the enforcing authority and the employment medical advisory service up to date.

HSE no longer will require employers to register the factories, offices and shops in which their employees work with the relevant health and safety authority, further reducing the number of health and safety forms that employers in Great Britain have to fill out. Previously most employers were required to notify HSE or the relevant local authority of their premises. The changes mean that:

• Factory employers no longer have to complete form F9 to notify HSE.
• Office and shop employers no longer have to complete the OSR1 form and notify their local authority.

HSE and local authorities collect information on businesses to help target their work on the greatest risks. Both are looking to improve the way they use and collect business data, including sharing information.

The premises registration changes do not affect other registration or form filling requirements, such as major hazard legislation (enforced by HSE) and food standards (enforced by local authorities).

Changes to the regulations governing the manufacture and storages of explosives take effect today after a 12-week consultation. The amendments to explosives regulations will reduce paperwork for the police and holders of explosives certificates, which will now be valid for up to 5 years. In addition, the regulations remove 224 sets of redundant local mine regulations as part of HSE's continuing mission to simplify, clarify and modernize the law.

A new version of the Chemicals Hazard Information for Supply (CHIP) Regulations has been produced to align CHIP with the new European Regulation on the classification, labeling and packaging of substances and mixtures (CLP Regulation), which was introduced in January.
The main changes allow suppliers to comply with the CLP Regulation as an alternative to CHIP before the CLP Regulation becomes mandatory on Dec. 1, 2010 for substances and June 1, 2015 for mixtures, and to provide powers for inspectors to enforce the CLP Regulation as well as CHIP.

The new law poster and pocket cards can be ordered from HSE Books (telephone: 01787 881165) and will be distributed by HSE Books and booksellers. More information about the law poster.

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