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Report On The Allan St John Holt OBE Memorial Lecture 2012

Tuesday 23rd October. Phoenix Centre, London

Derek Maylor, chair of the NW BTU H&S co-ordinators committee presents his report on an important memorial lecture he attended this week of European Health & Safety.

The event was attended by the leaders in UK health and safety and is it now part of the essential safety fixtures of the year.

Keith Scott Royal Mail Group Head of Safety opened the afternoons’ event which was titled "Towards a Risk Intelligent Society", expertly delivered by guest speaker Professor Ragnar E. Löfstedt and the day forming part of Royal Mail Group’s EU Health and Safety Week activities.

Professor Löfstedt is the Director of the King's Centre of Risk Management, King's College London and in March 2011 was asked to Chair a Government wide review of UK Health and Safety Regulation by Minister Chris Grayling.

Keith Scott Royal Mail Group Head Of SafetyHis review “Reclaiming health and safety for all” was issued in November last year and the Government accepted each of the 26 recommendations; however many people are of the opinion that the Government have gone on to misquote and mislead on much of it as they look to implement the recommended changes, and then to go much further.

The Professor spoke about his review being wholly evidence based, a scientific approach not tainted by political preconceptions. He had taken time to ensure that his panel colleagues were diverse politically and he was proud that his assembled panel wholly supported the end report and its recommendations.

Professor Löfstedt is always an interesting and valued speaker, charismatic end entertaining as well as informative. He noted that the smell of freshly felled trees [environmentally farmed obviously] to be “really cool”.  

Prof LoefstedtHe is quite clear on one of the often raised concerns that exempting from health and safety law those self-employed whose work activities pose no potential risk of harm to others does not include the bogus self-employed such as in construction. Again and again he wants it widely known that there will be no exemption for such workers.

The book writer working from home who falls over when he/she goes to make a cup of coffee will not be prosecuted by the HSE, and he has checked with both Judith Hackitt and Geoffrey Podger – they never, ever have been.

Another concern that has raised eyebrows was the review of ACoPs. The Professor is quite adamant that they are unnecessarily too complicated and can be self-defeating by being so strict. An audience analogy he agreed with was the Highway Code and such an approach should be the target. There also has to be a greater emphasis in education of risk in education; on risk based policy and a scientific approach to problems.    

He is currently embarking on a review of his review which will be presented to Government at Caxton House on 31st.January 2013 and made public 1st.February. One issue which has already struck home is the amount of interest in his work on which he has already done 115 talks or speeches, of which today’s was the latest.

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