Government Reviews

Over the years many reviews have taken place on the state of occupational health and Safety in the UK. These reports are listed by year of publication.

For convenience, here is a list of names of the authors with links:

This is not a definitive list – records are continually being added.

1956 – Industrial Accident Prevention – Report of the National Joint Advisory Council, Industrial Safety Sub Committee

Dame Mary Smieton, Chair

Industrial Accident Prevention: A report

The National Joint Advisory Council, Industrial Safety Sub Committee was appointed mid-1954 to examine problems of accidents at work to workers in factories and others subjected to the Factories Acts. The report makes a number of recommendations regarding research, education in universities, colleges and schools, further training, information and advice that was available at the time. It looks at the work of the Factory Inspectorate.

1972 – Safety and health at work: Report of the Committee, 1970–72 (Robens Report)

Lord Robens, Chairman

H.M. Stationery Office, P.O. Box 569, London SE1 9NH, United Kingdom, July 1972, 2 vols. 218 pp. and 718 pp.

Cmnd. 5034

Volume 1 contains the report by a Committee of Inquiry appointed in 1970 by the British Government to review legislation on safety and health, determine whether changes are required in major legislation or the nature and extent of voluntary safety and health work, and to consider whether further steps are required to protect the public from hazards of industrial origin. The report recommends the unification within a single comprehensive legislative framework of all the main statutes bearing on safety and health at work and certain aspects of the protection of the public; and the establishment under the policy direction of the Secretary of State for Employment of a National Authority on Safety and Health at Work to replace the present range of separate administrative arrangements. The main central inspectorates enforcing the present legislation would be brought together within the Authority and protection would be extended to almost all people at work. Volume 2 reproduces selected written evidence submitted to the Committee.

Available from the British Library: (System number: 001106037)

The National Archives:

Google Books:

1982 – Sixth Report from The Employment Committee. Session 1981–82

House of Commons. Employment Committee

The Working of The Health And Safety Commission and Executive: Achievements since The Robens Report together with the Proceedings Of The Committee and Minutes of Evidence taken before The Committee On 9, 16 and 23 June and 6 July 1982 and Appendices.

HMSO, 1982, 139 pp.

ISBN 0102400822

HC 400

2010 – Common Sense Common Safety: A report by Lord Young of Graffham to the Prime Minister following a Whitehall-wide review of the operation of health and safety laws and the growth of the compensation culture

Young, Lord

UK Cabinet Office; October 2010; 58 pp.

The aim is to free businesses from unnecessary bureaucratic burdens and the fear of having to pay out unjustified damages claims and legal fees. Above all it means applying common sense not just to compensation but to everyday decisions once again. The 1974 Health and Safety at Work etc Act has provided an effective framework for businesses and individuals for almost 40 years. Today we have the lowest number of non-fatal accidents and the second lowest number of fatal accidents at work in Europe. In my review of the workings of this Act, none of my recommendations applies to hazardous occupations where the present system, although probably overly bureaucratic, is nevertheless effective in reducing accidents at work. Despite the success of the Act, the standing of health and safety in the eyes of the public has never been lower, and there is a growing fear among business owners of having to pay out for even the most unreasonable claims. Press articles recounting stories where health and safety rules have been applied in the most absurd manner, or disproportionate compensation claims have been awarded for trivial reasons, are a daily feature of our newspapers. All this is largely the result of the way in which sensible health and safety rules that apply to hazardous occupations have been applied across all occupations. Part of the responsibility lies with the European Union (EU) where the Framework Directive of 1989 has made risk assessments compulsory across all occupations, whether hazardous or not, and part to the enthusiasm with which often unqualified health and safety consultants have tried to eliminate all risk rather than apply the test in the Act of a ‘reasonably practicable’ approach. Businesses now operate their health and safety policies in a climate of fear. The advent of ‘no win, no fee’ claims and the all-pervasive advertising by claims management companies have significantly added to the belief that there is a nationwide compensation culture. The ‘no win, no fee’ system gives rise to the perception that there is no financial risk to starting litigation; indeed some individuals are given financial enticements to make claims by claims management companies who are in turn paid ever-increasing fees by solicitors. Ultimately, all these costs are met by insurance companies who then increase premiums. However, any employer not covered by accident insurance faces bankruptcy, which encourages them to follow every recommendation of their health and safety consultant, no matter how absurd. The system for claiming compensation is a growing industry in itself. Indeed concerns became such that in 2008 the Master of the Rolls asked Lord Justice Jackson to conduct a review into the costs of litigation. I fully endorse the recommendations that he has made.

2011 – Reclaiming health and safety for all: An independent review of health and safety legislation

Löfstedt, Ragnar E.

UK Department for Work and Pensions; November 2011; 110 pp.

ISBN 9780101821926

Cm 8219

The focus of this review has been on the 200 or so Regulations and the 53 Approved Codes of Practice (ACoPs) owned by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Löfstedt has concentrated on areas where the evidence and contributions to his review have indicated that regulations are putting undue costs on business whilst doing little to improve health and safety outcomes. In general, the problem lies less with the regulations themselves and more with the way they are interpreted and applied. In some cases this is caused by inconsistent enforcement by regulators and in others by the influences of third parties that promote the generation of unnecessary paperwork and a focus on health and safety activities that go above and beyond the regulatory requirements. Sometimes the legislation itself can contribute to the confusion, through its overall structure, a lack of clarity, or apparent duplication in some areas.

2014 – Triennial Review Report: Health and Safety Executive. An independent review of the function, form and governance of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)

Martin Temple

UK Department for Work and Pensions; January 2014; 110 pp.

It is approaching 40 years since the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) was created and in that time the organisation has continually adapted to keep pace with changes in industry and to ensure HSE continues to make a positive contribution to reducing death, injury and illness in the workplace. The Cabinet Office requires every non departmental public body (NDPB) to be reviewed by its parent department every three years. The review looks at HSE’s functions, form and governance.