The HSE Small Business Trade Association Forum has heard that many complaints of health and safety burdens from small businesses relate to requirements placed on them through the supply chain or other third parties such as other businesses (including health and safety consultants) or insurers. This is known as ‘Blue Tape’ as opposed to government ‘Red Tape’
‘Challenge’ business on business burdens
HSE is looking at a number of areas including pre-qualification schemes, third party business advice, civil law and insurance drivers, and the impact of some management standards for smaller companies. Key concerns reported were:
- Poor Advice – third party advice includes support from trade associations, banks and consultants. There is some very good advice provided although “vast improvement” is required from some consultancies providing advice for small businesses, including those services provided national consultancies. Some packages are bespoke others provide a generic template-based product whose value is questionable;
- Pre-Qualification – HSE remains interested in pre-qualification schemes which is an area already being considered by the construction industry;
- Management Standards – there is concern over how management standards impinge on small businesses (primarily OHSAS 18001) particularly where certification is a requirement for securing contracts with larger organisations. The proposed ISO 45001 will give rise to similar concerns. The costs and benefits of such standards need to be known.
HSE is gathering evidence on the above and looking for examples to “improve on current anecdotal evidence” and is looking to all players in the health and safety system to “challenge the business on business burdens”.