UK occupational health and safety — does less regulation really benefit employers?

A worker in a power station
29 Feb 2012 12:42:26.373
Experts at The University of Nottingham are embarking on a two-year study to evaluate the changing landscape of UK occupational safety and health (OSH) regulation.

The research, commissioned by theInstitution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) , aims to explore whether reducing regulation would help businesses to prosper, without harming the health and safety of their employees.

Always of utmost importance but sometimes a target for politicians and sections of the media, health and safety and its implications at policy and practice levels have come under close scrutiny during recent Government reviews.
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Professor Ragnar Löfstedt’s 2011 review called for the simplification of some regulation, advocating the use of clearer business guidance and recommending a rethink around the concept of risk.

The study, part of IOSH’s research programme Health and Safety in a Changing World, will assess the Government’s response to that review and its effect on practice according to various stakeholder perspectives and will map how the landscape continues to evolve for businesses and OSH practitioners.

Research programme director Professor Robert Dingwall said: “This project supports IOSH’s mission to champion a realistic approach to risk management, supporting both employees and employers in minimizing the social and economic costs of death and injury at work. There is a serious concern that the flexibility created by a lighter touch from public agencies will actually be lost in an epansion of private rules from other interested parties like insurance companies. We are pleased to have made this grant to the University of Nottingham to find out what is happening on the ground.”

With extensive expertise in the translation of occupational health and safety knowledge and policy into effective practice, Dr Stavroula Leka, from the University’s Institute of Work, Health & Organisations, will lead the team alongside Dr Aditya Jain, from Nottingham University Business School.

By engaging and collaborating with key OSH stakeholders within the UK this research will consider a wide breadth of viewpoints across sectors and from academia, industry, government, trade unions and standards bodies. The research team will also utilise its international network to engage professionals with a European perspective, consider their experiences and make comparisons with the UK.

Dr Leka said: “Our goal is to achieve a more coherent understanding of the needs of today’s workplace and workforce. This research will make a valuable contribution to all parties who are concerned with the promotion of a safe and healthy work environment.”

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Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham, described by The Sunday Times University Guide 2011 as ‘the embodiment of the modern international university’, has 40,000 students at award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. It is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 75 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and the QS World University Rankings. It was named ‘the world’s greenest university’ in the UI GreenMetric World University Ranking 2011.

More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise. The University’s vision is to be recognised around the world for its signature contributions, especially in global food security, energy & sustainability, and health. The University won a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in 2011, for its research into global food security.

Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest ever fund-raising campaign, will deliver the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future. More news


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More information is available from Dr Stavroula Leka on +44 (0) 115 846 6662,

Emma Thorne Emma Thorne - Media Relations Manager

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 951 5793 Location: University Park

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