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17.07.17

Calls for ‘change of mindset’ on safety regulations following Grenfell fire

A number of influential safety organisations have called on politicians for a ‘change on mindset’ on health and safety regulation following the Grenfell Tower fire.

The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), the British Safety Council (BSC) and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) are amongst a number of groups to have penned an open letter to Theresa May urging the government to reconsider its approach to health and safety.  

They argue that ministers have frequently favoured regulatory inaction, as measures such as installing sprinklers into homes or schools have been rejected in favour of non-regulatory action.

The letter goes on to say that reform was needed to adjust attitudes to regulation and push towards making buildings safer for local residents and holding authorities and housing associations to account.

“Good, well-evidenced and proportionate regulations in health and safety, based on full consultation, are developed and adopted because they save lives and protect people’s health and wellbeing,” the letter reads.

“They are not “burdens on business” but provide essential protection for the public from identifiable risks.

“At this crucial time of national reflection and sorrow, we urge all politicians to re-emphasise the need for effective health and safety regulation and competent fire risk management. These are fundamental to saving lives and sustaining our communities.

“We believe it is vital that this disaster marks a turning point for improved fire safety awareness and wider appreciation that good health and safety is an investment, not a cost.”

The strong words also sparked a lively debate in the House of Lords last week led by Baroness Andrews, culminating in an agreement by Lord Prior, of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, that a meeting should take place between the safety industry and government representatives.

“I think the crux of this debate is whether the pendulum has swung too far with deregulation, and that is a matter of judgement,” Lord Prior said. “The awful tragedy of Grenfell Tower will make us rethink these issues and I hope it will change the culture that surrounds the way we look at regulation.”

After the debate, Baroness Andrews stated: “I am encouraged that the minister agreed that the culture should change and that the meeting should take place with the safety bodies behind the letter to Theresa May.”

Top Image: Rick Findler PA Wire

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