Posts

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.

“It’s Enlightened Despotism Jim, but not as we know it…”

 


"It's Enlightened Despotism Jim, but not as we know it..."

BBC images

In a ground breaking speech to the CBI today the Prime Minister told the nation that he knows what’s best for us. He said there are a lot of clever people in Whitehall who think like he does on lots of issues and they make and/or repeal laws and regulations according to his strategic vision…

…on the matter of equalities issues.

“We have smart people in Whitehall who consider equalities issues while they’re making the policy. We don’t need all this extra tick-box stuff. So I can tell you today we are calling time on equality impact assessments. You no longer have to do them if these issues have been properly considered.That way policy-makers are free to use their judgment and do the right thing to meet the equalities duty rather than wasting their own time and taxpayers’ money”.

…on the matter of judicial reviews.

“The government will make it harder for groups and individuals to challenge government decisions using judicial review. The time limit for bringing a case would be reduced, the cost would go up and the opportunities for appeal would be reduced, he said. Full details will be outlined in a Ministry of Justice consultation published soon. Although some judicial review cases were valuable, “so many are completely pointless”, Cameron said.

…on the matter of enlightened despotism.

“Ministers will be allowed to introduce policy without consultation. When the government came to power, all decisions were subject to a three-month consultation, he said. He said the government had already decided to allow ministers to hold shorter consultations, lasting as little as two weeks. “And we are going further, saying: if there is no need for a consultation, then don’t have one,” he said.

We have been ‘softened up’ for two years now as the Government propaganda machine has gone into overdrive to dismantle our health and safety regulations in the name of enterprise and in the face of distinguished dissenting voices whose reports DID NOT produce the expected findings on the existence of a compensation culture.

NOW THE GOVERNMENT HAS DECIDED IT ISN’T EVEN GOING TO BOTHER WITH POLICY CONSULTATION AND REVIEW…

A populist bonfire of so-called red tape and ‘unnecessary regulations’ is being used to restrict access to justice and is creating a smokescreen for the government to drive through a whole raft of worrying legislation the most recent of which being the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill – a benign sounding title for a Trojan Horse of Iniquity.    

It seems that as we are running out of time to do what the PM wants, we are just going to have to let him get on with it.

Don’t worry though…it’ll be all right on the night, won’t it?

Unhappy 125th! Then (1897) and now (2012): Lords, workers and the right to compensation…

  Unhappy 125th! Then (1897) and now (2012): Lords, workers and the right to compensation...

 

125 years ago the House of Lords debated the Workmen’s Compensation Bill.

This week the Lords debated the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill.

If you are concerned about the erosion of UK health and safety regulations and this Government’s attack on the rights of injured people to claim compensation, you will find the following extracts from Hansard interesting…we certainly do. 

We have interspersed the statements made by the noble Lords for dramatic effect. The wording is unchanged from the original…

Those Victorians certainly knew a thing or two about enterprise AND worker’s rights…but judge for yourself as you guess the era when dogma deputised for debate.

 

This week…

Lord Marland, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department for Business Innovation and Skills.
Overly burdensome and obsolete rules stifle business. That is why we need to get rid of them wherever that is sensible. For example, it is currently the case that, where health and safety regulations impose a strict duty on employers, they can be liable to pay compensation, despite having done all that was reasonable to protect their employees.

To address this potential unfairness, the Bill will remove the right of individuals to make civil claims for breach of most statutory health and safety duties, unless it can be proved the employer has been negligent.

 

125 years ago…

Lord Belper. 

Anybody who made a statement of that sort could not be aware of the practical effect of the present law. 

There were numerous cases of accidents that occurred in dangerous employment where no negligence on the part of the employer could be proved, where the workman had not contributed in any way to the cause of the accident – cases which no human foresight had been able to get rid of, and which might be said to be necessarily inseparable from the dangerous employments in which they occurred.

He would venture to ask any noble Lord who had experience with regard to these dangerous employments whether there was not a strong moral obligation on the part of the employer to provide some compensation in many of these cases, and whether, on the other hand, there was not an equitable claim on the part of the workman to receive something to make good the injuries he had sustained in the employment in which he had taken part?

What might happen in the case of a workman, under the Bill proposed by Mr. Asquith, if he wished to recover compensation for the negligence of some fellow workman which had caused a serious explosion? It was not an unreasonable case, for statistics of causes leading to accidents showed that negligence, such as using open lights, or firing shots in mines where such was not allowed, made up a considerable percentage of the causes which had led to serious catastrophes. What would be the case in the event of serious accident?

It was possible that somebody might survive to give information of what occurred, but the more serious the accident the more complete the wreck and ruin effected, the more fatal the results, the less chance there would be of the workman being able to get any evidence to prove that he was entitled to compensation, either in regard to negligence on the part of workmen or equally so with regard to the negligence of the manager or employer.

Within the last two hours he had been looking through the returns of accidents in mines in 1894, and he found that one of the most serious accidents that had ever taken place occurred in that year.

Although statistics showed that in an enormous proportion of cases convictions were obtained where either the manager, or employer, or a workman were prosecuted for negligence, yet in this case, where the loss of life was appalling, a note in the Blue-book gave as the result of prosecution that, although the inspector thought it necessary to prosecute, yet the summons for illegal shot-firing was dismissed, because he was unable to prove to the satisfaction of the Court that shots were fired, the persons who could have given evidence having lost their lives in the explosion, so he could bring forward only circumstantial evidence.

He mentioned this to show that such a case was far from being impossible; therefore from the workman’s point of view, though he was entitled to compensation in all cases where negligence occurred, it was very likely that in a considerable number of cases he would be deprived of it owing to circumstances not within his own control and which ought not to affect his claim to compensation.

 

This week… 

Lord Stevenson of Balmacara.

The Government’s proposal to end civil liability in health and safety is a major change in the existing law and was added to the Bill on Report in another place. It needs to bescrutinised very carefully.

Is it really the Government’s intention that a worker injured due to an employer’s breach of a statutory duty within the health and safety at work regulations-such as failing to guard a machine-will be required to prove that the employer knew, or ought to have known, of such a failure in order to gain redress for the injury sustained?

The requirement to prove foreseeability is a very high bar of proof for an individual injured or killed through no fault of their own. Do the Government really think that by proposing this change they are sending the right message to employers about the importance of health and safety?

There has been no public consultation on this proposal and what is being proposed goes further than the recommendations made in this area by Professor Lofstedt, in his recent report.

 

125 years ago…

The Prime Minister, The Marquess of Salisbury.

We are now, by a wise and general revision of the principle in which the law rests, applying it for the purpose for which it was originally destined, and for which it has been commonly and most profitably employed,

the purpose of forcing all who by the process of their industry or the accident of their position have the lives of their fellow men in their power – forcing them to spare neither labour nor ingenuity nor money in making our industries as safe as possible to those by whom they are carried on. (Cheers.)

 

After 1897 injured employees had only to show they had been injured on the job…what can they look forward to after 2012, Mr Cameron?

 

RoSPA ‘hits the nail on the head’ in ground-breaking analysis of accident statistics

In a ground-breaking review of government statistics, The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) says the ‘true impact’ of accidents is hidden.

RoSPA 'hits the nail on the head' in ground-breaking analysis of accident statistics

Photo: BBC images

According to the charity, there should be a “fundamental re-appraisal” of government public health priorities with a focus on premature and preventable deaths. On that basis, action to curb accidents should be the number one priority, it says.

Official figures show accidents account for just 2% of deaths in England and Wales – far behind cancer, and heart and respiratory disease, but RoSPA says this conceals the true impact of unintentional injuries in a report drawing on data from the Office for National Statistics to argue for a new approach to public health.

“We are faced with an accident epidemic that’s wiping out people in their prime”

 Tom Mullarkey, Chief Executive, RoSPA

 

The charity calculated the years of life lost as a result of premature death, based on the average number of years which those who died could have been expected to live.

This moved accidents up the priority list, because many victims die young.

RoSPA then filtered out deaths which could not have been prevented.

 

THE KEY FINDING:

RoSPA found that up to the age of 60, accidents were the leading cause of preventable years of life lost, accounting for 23% of the total.

 

 

On the back of this extremely important finding we ask the government and the insurance industry two simple questions…

Where’s the ‘compensation culture’ in these figures?

Why are you intent on dismantling health and safety regulations in the UK when people are dying from preventable accidents?  

RoSPA’s chief executive, Tom Mullarkey, says this is one of the most important findings in its 95-year history.

He says there is a “moral obligation” to prevent people dying before their time.

“We all know about diseases and the resources that are pumped into preventing the deaths they cause, but if only a fraction of that resource was used to prevent accidents we would not be faced, as we are today, with an accident epidemic that’s wiping out people in their prime.”

The charity says schemes to prevent accidents achieve quick results and can generate huge savings for the NHS. It wants extra support and information for people at key moments in their lives – including teenagers, parents and carers of young children, and people over 65.

RoSPA states that in England alone £1bn each year should be set aside to achieve this. The charity estimates that currently less than £1m is spent annually on these schemes.

In a statement, the Department of Health insisted that accident prevention was a key part of its approach to public health….aye, right.

In the light of government attacks on worker health and safety and a general downgrading of risk assessment and accident prevention, we can only hope that RoSPA’s voice is heard above the din of the insurance industry wailing about the costs of saving people’s lives…  

This report should be required reading at Cabinet level and hopefully will be an antidote to the relentless dismantling of the nation’s health and safety regualtions.

Black Monday Part 2: ‘Think-tank blames compensation culture for EVERYTHING

Black Monday Part 2: 'Think-tank blames compensation culture for EVERYTHING

Photograph: BBC

Chiming nicely with this Government’s anti-health and safety mantra, a new ‘think tank’ report claims that “an ingrained compensation culture is bleeding health and education services dry,”…

Independent study? Oh really?

Well at last the Government has unearthed somebody who thinks hurt and injured people seeking compensation are the cause of all that’s wrong with the NHS and the education system… 

Glib tabloid sound bite – 1, reasoned debate – 0.

Payouts by the NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA) have trebled in the past decade, standing at £911m in 2010/11, according to the report by the Centre for Policy Studies at Kent University.

Of this, £863m was paid in connection with clinical negligence claims, the report says.

OUR QUESTION: Did those claiming compensation not have to PROVE negligence?

ANSWER:   Yes.

Are we expected to believe that insurance companies just simply pay out on spurious claims? Don’t think so. If that was the case we would be blaming the insurance companies for the myth of the ‘compensation culture…wait a minute…

So what is the real issue here? Is it the cost of compensation claims or falling standards of care and education?

The report adds that as of March last year, the NHSLA estimated its potential liabilities at £16.8bn, though a large proportion of cases do not reach court.

Out of 63,804 medical negligence claims received by the NHSLA, 38% were abandoned by the claimant, 45% were settled out of court 3% had damages approved or set by a court and 14% have yet to settle.

Tim Knox, director of the Centre for Policy Studies, said: “This rise in the compensation culture has huge – if largely hidden – costs. In particular, it has created a climate in which professionals will prioritise litigation avoidance above what is best for their pupils or patients.”

This is an outrageous and unsupported claim. Mr Knox is asserting that NHS clinicians and school teachers are putting patients and pupils a poor second behind financial considerations.

By the way, why is the HSE silent when reports like this are churned out? Isn’t the HSE keen to dispel health and safety myths? There is a section on the HSE website dedicated to this very topic… 

Meanwhile, back in the Twilight Zone, Mr Knox, at a stroke, has just RUBBISHED the ethical standards of hundreds of thousands of highly paid, highly qualified and highly respected professional people throughout the UK.

WELL DONE…

The report goes on to warn that instead of improving safety and accountability, it (the oft-quoted ‘compensation culture’, has resulted in “significant costs to the quality of services and the experiences of those who use them”.

Lest the dead horse has not been flogged enough, it continues: “The combination of an ingrained compensation culture and litigation avoidance is bleeding the health and education services dry, both financially, and in terms of their public sector ethos and professional role.”

Report author Professor Frank Furedi said fear of legal action can hold back progress and creativity. “It erodes professional autonomy, stifles innovation, leads to defensive practices in both hospitals and schools and encourages greater bureaucracy,” he said.

Wow, we say, Professor Frank. That’s quite a lot to lay at the door of the non-existent compensation culture. It’s not us saying it’s non existent; it’s the two recent Government sponsored reports on the subject that rubbished the notion of a compensation culture:

‘Common Sense – Common Safety’ – Lord Young, 2010.

‘Reclaiming Health and Safety for all’ – Professor Ragnar Lofstedt, 2011.

However, according to Frank Furedi, “‘Best practice’ is now defined as having checked all the boxes in a quality assurance form rather than doing what is best for the patient or pupil.”

About all we can say for this study is that it checks the box for finding a study to support the ill-founded notion of a compensation culture and thus the Government can happily push on with its Crusade against the legitmate rights of its citizens to seek justice and fair compensation.

What must Lord Young and Professor Lofstedt think?