Why is ERRA (the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013) relevant to Health and Safety? Most of it isn't, to be honest, but Section 69 amends Section 47 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. This is a significant amendment.

In broad terms, this prevents employees bringing claims for compensation for personal injury suffered at work based upon breaches of regulations passed under this Act. This includes regulations governing manual handling, personal protection, risk assessment and unsafe machinery to name but a few. Employees can rely on failing to comply with regulations as evidence of negligent conduct but more often it will be possible to raise defences of 'reasonable practicality' – in other words you did all that was reasonable to avoid the accident occurring.

This applies in relation to accidents occurring after 1st October 2013 only.

So, how does this affect employers practically? You are still obliged to comply with the regulations. Well, it is a twofold effect. Firstly, because it gives employers defences to claims where previously there were none. Secondly, insurers and solicitors representing employers will want to investigate more often and more thoroughly.

The impact is multiple. Insurers and solicitors will seek more documents, will speak to more employees, may wish to attend site (a few times), may wish to have experts examine your practices and critique them and may want employees to attend meetings and trials. This all adds up to potentially more administration, time and cost.

You may well have excellent reporting procedures, detailed accident investigations, up to date risk assessments and state of the art training and supervision. Then again you may not.

Insurers will want you to document all procedures, document reviews and changes of procedures, document training and attendance at training, document accident investigations and reporting procedures and reviews of reporting procedures.

This is a potentially arduous task that can cause friction between departments, cost increases, changes in practices and time spent merely organising the paperwork!

You may need either an internal or external review to try to bring all the various threads together and create a harmonised procedure that all departments and employees buy into and which does not increase costs and create additional administration. A fresh pair of eyes may help and sometimes that pair of eyes see more looking in.

Article by Simon Matthews of Searchlight Consulting.

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