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The Dave-Vince Code: an alchemist’s cookbook for workplace injury and social injustice.

The Dave-Vince Code: an alchemist's cookbook for workplace injury and social injustice.

Image: Zimbio

‘Occult futurists’, Prime Minister David Cameron (Dave) and Business Secretary Vince Cable (Vince), have together developed a secret plan ‘The Dave-Vince Code’ which is designed to dismantle health and safety legislation in the UK on the spurious grounds that less regulation will free up business to create jobs and grow the economy.

We believe that this Code is an invidious and systematic assault on the right of workers and the general public to expect the highest possible standards of protection from hazards and threats to health and the right to fair compensation if accidents occur. 

We shall lay bare some of the key tenets of the Code as illustrated by the pronoucements of Dave and Vince and demonstrate the flawed thinking and (sometimes) blatant subterfuge employed to bolster party political dogma and the vested interest of the insurance companies.   

 

Dave – 1st Dec 2009, interview in The Telegraph: 

“I want to exempt entire categories of workers and organisations from the fear of litigation or prosecution because of ‘over-the-top’ health and safety rules.”
 
“A Conservative government would amend the Compensation Act to abolish negligence claims for activities where it should be obvious there is a risk-for example, sport and adventure training.”

It is only some organisation’s fear of litigation that keeps many workers safeand we know how often THAT works.

Thus the early clues to the Code were embedded back in 2009. What the then future PM was saying loud and clear was that he would abolish negligence claims for dangerous activities.So, the activities known to be dangerous will remain dangerous,and if you participate in any of them and get injured – tough luck. Tell that to Sarah (see video testimonial: http://www.bonnarandco.com ) 

 

Dave – 10th July 2010, commenting on Lord Young’s report, ‘Common Sense – Common Safety’:

“It is is clear from Lord Young’s work that there was ‘too much intrusion’ into everyday life from health and safety bureaucracy.”
 
“He has done a brilliant job helped by members of the public who have been sending in examples, including a schoolteacher who sent in a ten-page form that has to be filled out when you do any sort of school trip.”

The only thing that is clear is that the PM has swallowed the potion concocted by the insurance industry and tabloid press that has made him immune to rational thinking on health and safety matters and oblivious to the concerns of the public.

 

Dave – 5th Jan 2012 in repsonse to the Lofstedt report, ‘Reclaiming Health & safety For All’:

“Health and safety can too often sound farcial or marginal..so there is something else we are doing: waging war against the excessive health and safety culture that has become an albatross around the neck of British businesses.”

“So one of the Coalition’s New Year resolutions is this: kill off the health and safety culture for good. I want 2012 to go down in history not just as Olympics year or Diamond Jubilee year, but the year we banished a lot of this pointless time-wasting from the economy and British life once and for all.”

‘Farcical and marginal’ – ironic or what? Now it’s all out war on the nation’s health and safety infrastructure. An invidious mantra indeed for a nation’s leader…made more invidious by his hi-jacking of Professor Lofstedt’s report and crass manipulation of it’s findings – see below.   

 

Dave – 14th Feb 2012 insurance industry summit, 10 Downing Street:

“I am determined to tackle this damaging compensation culture which has been pushing up premiums. I want to stop trivial claims, free up businesses from the stranglehold of health and safety red tape and look at ways we can bring costs down.”

“The insurance industry plays such an important part in all our lives – it is there to help when we are at our most vulnerable and at greatest need. But I want to ensure that we all do what we can to help people through this difficult time.”

The PM’s psychophantic eulogising of the insurance industry illustrated his total conversion to the ‘dark side’ of the health and safety debate and his refusal to meet with the Unions or APIL, the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, confirmed his intention to ignore the legitimate concerns of millions of ordinary people.

Note to PM and ABI – injured people and their families are voters too and they pay insurance premiums.

 Vince – Federation of Small Business Conference, 23 March 2012:

“…But there is another issue that blights your working lives and stands in your way as you strive to grow your business – and that’s the burden of red tape and regulation. So I would like to say a little about that before I close.”

The one true blight of working lives in this country right now is not the ‘red tape’ restricting growth but the coalition’s determination to roll back 175 years of progress and take working conditions back to Victorian Britain. 

Even the entrepreneurial Americans don’t buy the argument that health and safety regulations damage jobs ( http://news.bonnarandco.com/us-health-and-safety-laws-are-good-for-busine). So just what book of alchemist spells are Dave and Vince reading?

Vince – 10th September 2012, announcing ‘bonfire’ of health & safety regulations in parliament:

“Businesses need to focus on creating jobs and growth rather than “being tied up in unnecessary red tape. I’ve listened to those concerns and we’re determined to put common sense back into areas like health and safety, which will reduce costs and fear of burdensome inspections.”

“From April 2013, only companies operating in high risk areas such as construction or with a track record of poor performance will face regular visits from safety inspectors.

By ensuring regulation becomes a last resort, we will create an environment that frees business from the burden of red tape,helping to create the right conditions for recovery and growth in the UK economy

Despite the evidence of decades and a litany of public and private tragedies – Aberfan, Flixborough, Piper Alpha – plus countless unpublicised avoidable accidents, are we to simply believe that cutting back on health and safety regulation will make our economy stronger and our living and working environments safer?

We’d sooner believe that Dave and Vince can create gold from base metal. 

FOOTNOTE TO THE SNEAKY AND THE SCURRILOUS:

How this government is blatantly ignoring its own commissioned research and is actively engaged on a process of regulatory vandalism which WILL result in loss of life, serious injury and long-term health problems for this nation’s workforce.

If anyone is unfortunate enough to get injured at work or to contract an occupational illness they can look forward to a very difficult AND GROSSLY ONE-SIDED fight for justice and fair compensation.

THIS IS AN OUTRAGE AND A SCANDAL, PERPRETATED BY A GOVERNMENT THAT HAS TOTALLY BOUGHT INTO THE DECEITFUL AND VINDICTIVE APPROACH OF THE INSURANCE INDUSTRY IN ITS EFFORTS TO CUT ITS COSTS AND BOOST ITS PROFITS.

IS IT REALLY TOO MUCH TO EXPECT BETTER FROM A GOVERNMENT?

HERE’S THE TRUTH …  

In October 2012 the government announced an amendment to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill. The new Business minister, Matthew Hancock, told MPs this was based on Professor Löfstedt’s recommendations and would remove the concept of “strict liability” – whereby companies are liable for injuries regardless of negligence if certain health and safety rules are breached.

“The fear of being sued drives businesses to exceed what is required by the criminal law, diverting them from focusing on sensible preventive health and safety management and resulting in unnecessary costs and burdens,” he said.

However, the Löfstedt review did not call for the blanket removal of strict liability. Instead it called for a review of where strict liability was necessary. “These proposals were sneaked into the Bill at the last possible moment after the legislation had been through committee.”
 

What Professor Ragnar Lofstedt really thinks about the removal of strict liability.

‘Reclaiming health & safety for all: a review of progress one year on.’
January 2013

Page 11, paragraph 30:

An amendment to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill 2012-13 is being used by the Government to deliver the recommendation on strict liability. The amendment has proved to be highly controversial and has provoked much debate, including amongst the members of my Advisory Panel.

I have also been lobbied by many interested stakeholders including personal injury law firms and trades unions.
 
My understanding is that the proposed amendment to the Health and Safety at Work Act reverses the current position on civil liability. This means that, unless exceptions apply, claims for compensation in relation to breaches of health and safety legislation will need to prove that the employer has been negligent.

The approach being taken is more far-reaching than I anticipated in my recommendation and, if this amendment becomes law I hope that the Government will carefully monitor the impact to ensure that there are no unforeseen consequences.

What Professor Lofstedt really said about the EU and health & safety legislation in his original report.

Page 4, paragraph 9

Many of the requirements that originate from the EU would probably exist anyway, and many are contributing to improved health and safety outcomes. There is evidence, however, that a minority impose unnecessary costs on business without obvious benefits. 

 

What Professor Lofstedt really said about health and safety regulations in his original report:

Page 7, para graph 2:

The general sweep of requirements set out in health and safety regulation are broadly fit for purpose.

..and in repsonse to government spin:

“I have neither seen nor heard any evidence to suggest that there is a case for radically altering or stripping back current health and safety regulation.” In general the regulations are “fit for purpose.”

What Professor Lofstedt really said about Health & Safety Executive inspections in his original report:

Page 79, paragraph 2.

The evidence suggests that businesses can benefit from and value inspections, with SMEs welcoming the constructive, reasonable advice and guidance that it can provide to help them improve health and safety in the workplace 200. Nearly nine out of ten employers who have had contact with HSE see it as a ‘helpful’ organisation.

 

What Lord Young really said about the ‘compensation culture in ‘Common Sense – Common Safety.’

Page 19:

Britain’s ‘compensation culture’ is fuelled by media stories about individuals receiving large compensation payouts for personal injury claims and by constant adverts in the media offering people non-refundable inducements and the promise of a handsome settlement if they claim.

It places an unnecessary strain on businesses of all sizes, who fear litigation and are subjected to increasingly expensive insurance premiums.

The problem of the compensation culture prevalent in society today is, however, one of perception rather than reality.

 

Written by Andy Thorogood, Business Development Manager, Bonnar Accident Law.

The Control of Dogs (Scotland) Act – Scottish editors please note that it came into force last month, by the way…

Despite a deliberately populist headline, the official Scottish Parliament press release on The Control of Dogs (Scotland) Act (see full transcript below) has attracted absolutely no media coverage in Scotland as far as we can tell… 

We think this is a gross oversight, particularly in the wake of the horrific dog attack suffered last week by seven year old Hamilton schoolboy Jude Keir.

Perhaps the press release shouldn’t have been sent out on a Saturday – hardly a ‘hot news’ day – so the lack of coverage is hardly surprising.

This is a real shame to say the least given the fact that this groundbreaking legislation has been praised by all shades of the political spectrum in Scotland and both sides of the border. In our view, the Scottish parliament has lost a golden opportunity to raise public awareness of the new legislation and highlight the zero tolerance of dog owners who allow their animals to attack innocent people.

What we find inexplicable is that the politicians who introduced the bill and supported its progress through the Scottish Parliament did not think it was important to get their message out there and ensure that in the aftermath of Jude’s injuries, the resulting press coverage contained a detailed explanation of the Act and delivered a strong warning to all dog owners about their dog’s behaviour.

The new law, which applies to all public places and private homes now focuses on the deed and not the breed and we sincerely hope that it has the desired effect.  

 

Dog asbos can be issued from today
26/02/2011

Dog owners who allow their pets to become out of control in a public or private place could be issued with a ‘dog control notice’ from today as new legislation comes into force designed to crack down on delinquent dogs and their owners.

The changes to the law come after a Control of Dogs Bill, brought forward by Christine Grahame MSP, was voted through unanimously by the Scottish Parliament last year.

Under the new legislation action can be taken against any dog owner who permits their dog to become out of control.

The Control of Dogs (Scotland) Act 2010 adopts a ‘deed not the breed’ approach in tackling irresponsible dog ownership. It also highlights the central responsibility of the dog owner in controlling behaviour. The aim is to identify out of control dogs at an early stage so that measures to change their behaviour – and that of their owners – can be implemented before any dog becomes a danger to the public.

The 2010 Act also makes a change to the existing criminal offence of allowing your dog to be dangerously out of control. This change is designed to ensure dog owners can be held to account when they fail to take control of dogs who become dangerous and attack.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said:

“Out of control dogs can be a real nuisance in communities across Scotland. What starts off as intimidating or antisocial behaviour can sometimes quickly turn into a potentially dangerous situation.

“The aim of this act is to nip it in the bud at an early stage so that action can be taken against dog owners who allow their pets to become out of control.

This is designed as a preventative regime and we don’t expect thousands of dog control notices to be issued every week.

“That said, irresponsible owners are being given a clear message today that their actions will not be tolerated and they now face consequences if they flout this new law.

“The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring our communities are protected from dangerous dogs, which is why we, along with all other parties, supported the measures contained in Christine Grahame’s Control of Dogs (Scotland) Bill – passed unanimously by the Scottish Parliament last year.

“The provisions contained in this Act will give additional powers to local authorities to take action against out of control of dogs, help improve dog behaviour and place clear responsibilities on dog owners. We hope the implementation of this new legislation will lead to a reduction in the number of dog attacks which continue blight our communities each year.

“A dog owner has to be responsible for their dog at all times, including in their own home. This is especially important when small children are also in the home. The change to the Dangerous Dogs Act offence so a dog owner can be held criminally responsible where a dog is found to be dangerously out of control in any place is to be welcomed as this reinforces the need to be a responsible dog owner and control your dog at all times.”

‘Bananas’ Bus Slips Up In Bridge Crash

A passenger had a lucky escape when a bus hit a low bridge and had its roof sliced off in Edinburgh yesterday afternoon.

The double decker crashed into a rail bridge near Murrayfield Stadium and fortunately the man on the top deck suffered only minor injuries after being thrown into the stairwell by the impact.

Thankfully, the driver and three other passengers on the Go Bananas bus – which is hired out for stag and hen parties – also escaped unhurt.

This incident serves as a prime example of the need for the proper risk assessment of business activities involving members of the public and highlights the dangers of the wholesale watering down of safety standards recommended by Lord Young in his recent ‘Common Sense Common Safety’ report to the government. In his report Lord Young proposed to remove the burden on business by removing the statutory requirement for formal risk assessment across a wide range of commercial and not for profit enterprises because he believed the they were not inherently dangerous and that a proportionate response to health and safety risk was needed.

If a group of guys or girls had been upstairs on this bus at the time of the crash there would have been multiple fatalities and the tabloid press, quick to demonise accident victim compensation claims, would have been clamouring for evidence of route planning, driver training and of course, risk assessment…

Let’s hope the lesson has been learned by all concerned with this incident and that other private and public operated bus operators in Scotland take note that the health and safety of their passengers has to be their prime responsibility. Health and safey legislation is not a burden on enterprise it is a positive engine of business value, not least because the costs to the insurance industry are reduced if we all take care on the roads and elsewhere. At least on this ocassion we are not looking at wrongful death claims in addition to bus and bridge repair costs.

If you have been hurt or injured in an acident on public transport in Scotland within the last three years, please contact us for a FREE no obligation legal review of your case on 0800 163 978.