HSE warns of dangers of being good to your staff
The HSE has published the new Approved Code of Practice on Workplace Health Safety and Welfare. This covers issues like lighting, temperature, space, toilet facilities etc. Most of it is just an update of the current Code, and, although I am disappointed that there is no maximum temperature despite the overwhelming case for one, most of the Code is good, clear and helpful.
Unfortunately the HSE manages to shoot itself in the foot with the press release which says it has been reviewed “to make it easier for employers, building owners, landlords and managing agents to understand and meet their legal obligations and so reduce the risks of over compliance.”
Are they serious? Did they think before writing this? What possible risk is there in employers “over complying” with the welfare regulations? Is it going to be dangerous to have an employer providing too much office space per worker, or too many toilets? Over-compliance is actually “good practice” and should be encouraged. Why on earth is a regulator coming out with this complete nonsense.
Union members know where the problem lies and it is not with over-compliance. It is with the real problem of under-compliance, with employers routinely flaunting the Code. How many buildings have windows that cannot be cleaned safely, no traffic routes for fork-lifts? How many small building sites comply with the requirements on washing, toilet changing and rest facilities.
The HSE should be using the opportunity of the new code to remind employers of their legal requirements, not telling them that there is a “risk” if they actually go beyond the legal minimum and treat their workers with a little bit of dignity.