HSE Chair on 40th Anniversary of Act

Before the 1974 Act there was a host of different regulations – some industries swamped with prescriptive rules and others with little or no regulation at all. Something needed to be done.

The 1972 Robens Report concluded there were too many regulations and that what was needed was a regulatory regime that set broad, non-prescriptive goals for dutyholders, underpinned by a fundamental principle: ‘those that create risk are best placed to manage it’.

The Act that emerged from his review swept away detailed and prescriptive industry regulations; it created a flexible system where regulations describe goals and principles, supported by codes of practice and guidance. Based on consultation and engagement, the new regime was designed to deliver a proportionate, targeted and risk-based approach.

Forty years on this approach still applies. Despite having diversified away from an economy based predominantly on heavy industry and manufacturing, much of the original vision and framework of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 remains relevant. The principles have been applied time and again to new and emerging technologies and sectors. The legacy is a safety record envied around the world.

Much of our current reform agenda is aimed at: stripping out unnecessary or duplicated regulation and helping smaller businesses to understand how to take a proportionate approach to managing their risks – but the basic principles remain the same.

Forty years on the Health and Safety at Work Act has demonstrated it can be applied to new responsibilities and new demands, creating the framework for people to come home safe and well from a day’s work in any sector of the economy.

Source: HSE

Post date: 05 Jan 2015

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