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Who do businesses turn to after HSE cutbacks?
On 30th September 2011 the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) will close its single public contact point, Infoline. This service is currently used by over 20,000 people every month.
“If employers believe they need specialist advice after consulting the free information and guidance on HSE’s website, there are other, commercial health and safety advice phone services available.”
Jane Hext, Managing Director of leading health and safety risk management firm Santia (www.santia.co.uk)
“As an operator of a commercial health and safety advice service of course we welcome new clients and will be more than happy to fill the void that will be left by Infoline.”
“We understand that in today’s current climate of cutbacks, government departments have to tighten their belts. However, we are concerned at the knock on effects of closing this valuable resource.
“The possibility of corporate manslaughter charges, personal injury claims, and a new threat of enforcement fees from the HSE, means that firms have every incentive to ensure that they effectively manage health and safety. Except now, due to HSE cuts, firms will have less assistance to help them through the maze of compliance.”
The HSE say that the closure of the service is due to the fact that most people now head to their website as the first port of call, but the slashing of the HSE budget by a massive 35%, might also be a contributory factor.
The HSE’s comment that they will make accident reporting “quick and easy” by introducing “a suite of seven forms” is also a cause for concern, as a significant number of people currently pick up the phone and report directly to the Incident Contact Centre. As of the 12th of September this will be another service that will be denied businesses, with only injuries that can be defined as major or fatal being accepted over the phone.
It is well recognised that many people use phone lines because they have found it difficult to resolve their query by visiting a website alone. Jane Hext of Santia commented:
“We are concerned that a shift to only web and form based services means that businesses will no longer also have the reassurance of being able to pick up the phone and speak to a knowledgeable person who can help.
“The government’s recently published plans ‘Good Health and Safety, Good for Everyone’ talk about making things easier for small businesses and improving access to information. It is hard to see how the decision to close these services squares with this.”
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Santia is the UK’s leading provider of health & safety risk management solutions, offering the broadest range of services in the market.
Our teams of over 600 people, based right across the country, serve the risk-management and compliance needs of clients large and small in virtually all main sectors. Many of these clients are among the best known names in British business.