HSE aims to tackle “blue tape”

The HSE is worried that companies are being pressured to take unnecessary action because of health and safety concerns.

At the HSE’s Board Meeting in March 2018, a paper called ‘Tackling Blue Tape’. Blue tape is the term used to describe the health and safety burdens flowing from business-to-business transactions. Companies are acting disproportionately on health and safety matters due to pressures from larger clients, insurers, supply chain safety accreditation schemes, consultancies and others.

Research undertaken by the HSE found that companies are more likely to take action on health and safety due to supply chain pressure or fear of civil liability than through a genuine drive to improve safety. The paper noted the following:

• Some consultancies are using scare tactics to sign firms up to multi-year contracts which are expensive and not very effective
• Insurers may require disproportionate actions to be undertaken
• With regard to contractor accreditation schemes there is no safety benefit in joining multiple schemes
• Certification to management standards such as ISO45001 requires significant resources and can be a diversion from effective and proportionate risk management

The outcome of the Board meeting is that the HSE is developing plans to help employers tackle ‘blue tape’ and its sources.