Following the post on the 2010 British election campaign a reader pointed out that David Cameron’s reviewer of OHS, Lord Young, spoke at the 2010 conference of the Institute of Occupational Safety & Health (IOSH) in late March 2010 and ruffled some feathers.
Lord David Young described the public perception of OHS as
“at best, as an object of ridicule and, at worst, a bureaucratic nightmare”.
However according to IOSH, Lord Young identified OHS professionals as the problem instead of considering the truth of many of the media reports. This is surprising given that HSE has taken great pains to identify many of the myths that have entered the public consciousness over the last few years. Anyone undertaking a review of OHS should investigate a little deeper than The Telegraph. It does not augur well for any recommendations that David Cameron may be expecting.
Lord Young did at least mention the substantial influence that insurance companies are having on the management of health and safety.
But perhaps one should not be surprised by Lord Young’s approach. An outsider may think him well qualified for the task as a former Secretary of State for Employment and Secretary of State for Trade & Industry until one realises that his tenure was under Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and in a time that was not renown for OHS innovation.
According to the IOSH news release, after inaccurately criticising IOSH on the matter of professional competence he concluded his speech by saying
“Thanks for not throwing bottles at me!’
Some perspex guarding may be required on his return visit!
Lord Young seems to have been poorly prepared for, following Cameron’s OHS speech in December, IOSH’s media statement said :
“…IOSH welcomes Mr Cameron’s intention to tackle the negative popular culture that has come to surround our health and safety, backed by a commitment to bring more common sense into compensation.”
Clearly Lord Young sees IOSH as combative with Tory ideologies which speaks volumes about Lord Young’s review and the Conservative Party’s attitudes to OHS more generally. What little optimism existed in December has been dashed by Lord Young less than four months later.
Lord Young wrote in an April 2009 newspaper article on the need for an independent civil service:
“David Cameron will have to restore the impartiality of the Civil Service without delay. Without impartial advice, ministers are rarely successful. Nor, in the end, are governments”.
It is recommended that Lord Young bears this in mind as he completes his review for Tory Leader David Cameron. Or perhaps Cameron should have introduced a “competence based membership structure”, like IOSH did in 2005, for the Conservative Party prior to appointing Lord Young