Monday, June 16, 2008

Overzealous health and safety consultants

Select Committee on Work and Pensions Third Report examines the interpretation of health and safety legislation. It is available at parliament website and was published 2 April 2008.

Paragraph 75 reads as follows:

"A number of witnesses suggested that a key issue for employers was that the risk assessment process was often over-burdensome and it was argued that this could be exacerbated by the approach of some health and safety consultants and advisers. Mr Richard Jones, Policy and Technical Director at IOSH, the professional body that represents health and safety consultants, explained that IOSH has had informal discussions with HSE and was told that inspectors had raised concerns about the credibility of the evidence used by some consultants to form the basis of risk assessments. [74] Lord McKenzie of Luton, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at DWP also acknowledged this was an issue saying, "I think it is certainly a fact that this happens and there is a lot of evidence and information to suggest that it does."

I am sure it is true there are some consultants out there who are overzealous, but that sounds like scapegoating to me. The most overzealous people I come across are inhouse advisors who quote regulations and fail to provide any practical advice. Consultants only get paid when they deliver, so I really don't believe this is the root cause of the problem. It seems to me that clients get what they ask for, and often consultants are given little scope to drive improvement.

Andy Brazier

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