One of the many reasons cited for the extensive health and safety laws in this and many other western countries is:
· Legal, Professional requirements can be strengthened in civil and/or criminal law, it is recognized that without the extra “encouragement” of possible regulatory action or litigation, many organizations will not act on their implied moral obligations.
The impact of health and safety regulations affects us all. The Occupational Safety and Health Act 1974 defines the structure for promoting, regulating and implementing workplace, health, safety and well-being in the UK. Since the 1950s, the International Labor Organization and the World Health Organization have shared a common definition of occupational health. Health and Safety is an interdisciplinary field. The purpose of occupational health and safety programs is to provide safe working conditions and environments.
Historically, the safety culture we live in today mostly didn’t exist. Events such as Piper Alpha (the oil rig disaster), for example, made 106 recommendations for a second-stage investigation, after initial research, to change North Sea safety procedures, all of which were accepted by the oil industry. One of the biggest changes saw responsibility for ensuring safety in the North Sea, from the Department of Energy to the Director of Health and Safety. The conflict of interest was obvious (production and safety were run by the same organization).
A second example was the Kings Cross underground fire. It was initially difficult to explain, a proper forensic investigation required, resulting in the discovery of a fluid flow phenomenon (which is liquid and gas in motion), which eventually explained the horrific ferocity of the fire.
There is a consensus today that a safety culture is a proactive stance towards a safer work environment. Both of these major events identified the impact of organizational, managerial and human factors on safety outcomes.
Those who oppose health and safety regulations argue that the law sometimes punishes those who do the right thing. For example, in settlements with heavy traffic, bumps were placed on the road to slow down the traffic. They have proven to slow ambulances, increase pollution and pose a threat to disabled passengers; they also infuriate some drivers and are seen by some as causing accidents rather than preventing them.
Whatever your thoughts on health and safety, the law saves many lives, and for those of you who have lost a livelihood due to a work accident, then there are ways open to you.
Lawyers’ chambers provide proactive advice and deal with health and safety work in many areas. Claims from Health and Safety are often appropriate situations for direct instruction to attorneys.