Lord Young’s report calls for restrictions on “no win no fee” advertising

The UK government put forward proposals to improve the perception of health and safety (H&S), to ensure it is being taken seriously by employers and the general public.

Announcing the publication of the review of H&S regulation, the Prime Minister David Cameron claimed to be putting some “common sense back into health and safety”.

The report, Common Sense, Common Safety, by Lord Young and commissioned by the government, called for restrictions on advertising for “no win, no fee” compensation claims and a revolution in the way personal injury claims are handled.

Lord Young of Graffham said: “For too long, health and safety has been allowed to become a joke in the media and among the public. It’s about time it was taken seriously. I believe that the best way to do this is to ease the burden in places where health and safety is not an issue, and to discourage the compensation culture that has spread fear of litigation throughout our society.”

Welcoming the report, the Prime Minister said: “Good health and safety is vitally important. But all too often good, straightforward legislation designed to protect people from major hazards has been extended inappropriately to cover every walk of life, no matter how low risk. A damaging compensation culture has arisen, as if people can absolve themselves from any personal responsibility for their own actions, with the spectre of lawyers only too willing to pounce with a claim for damages on the slightest pretext.”

Among the key recommendations is to extend the simplified Road Traffic Accident Personal Injury Scheme to include other personal injury claims. This would provide a simple three-stage procedure for lower value claims, accessible via the internet, with fixed costs for each stage.

In order to ensure consistency and professionalism in implementing health and safety legislation, Lord Young has recommended that consultants who undertake workplace assessment should be professionally qualified and registered on an online database.

Lord Young added: “I believe my recommendations will be an important step towards restoring civil liberties, shredding red tape and making sure that health and safety rules are properly applied and respected.”

But Sally Roff, head of the safety, health and environment group at Beachcroft, urged caution in the implementation of the recommendations: “Whilst Lord Young’s report is welcomed as it promotes a return to a risk-based approach to the identification and management of  people and product safety risks, legislators should resist the urge to push through changes to the legal framework but should rather seek to consult widely with employers, unions, insurers, regulators and the judiciary to ensure that any legislation, if required, is implemented and enforced consistently to ensure desired outcomes.”