Too Young to Report


HSE recently launched a couple of consultations. These are all in response to Lord Young’s (i.e. Dave’s) report on sensible health and safety. This probably links nicely with Dave Cameron’s Big Society (which seems to be getting ever bigger thanks to beef burger outlets, some good TV dinners and even better deserts), the desperate drive to find out how happy we are (which I’m not that happy about…) and the large asteroid that’s always heading our way from far-far-away (no doubt where they all stammer). But the link escapes me. The primary consultation is on RIDDOR.

RIDDOR is an especially dull piece of legislation with a vaguely ‘Lord of the Rings’ sounding name. You expect it to lead to a magical land of dwarves, elves, dragons and wizards. But instead it leads to form filling and a desire to become creative with terms like ‘work related accident’ and ‘over 3 days’. As a result it is well recognised that a significant proportion of ‘reportable’ incidents are likely to go unreported and ill people taxied in to attend work before the 3 days are up. The only figures that are likely to be accurate are the fatalities (unless, it is your business to hide dead bodies). The proposed change is even duller – a change of the ‘catch all’ of ‘over 3 day injuries’ to ‘over 7’. This means that general injuries (that don’t fall into any specific categories) that resulted in someone being off work for more than 7 days would have to be reported.

So, why the change? This is seen as enabling a reduction in red-tape form-filling for employers. But why 7 and why not 10 or 6 or some other number? Well, of course to fit in with current conspiracy theories it simply had to be a prime number, otherwise it just wouldn’t seem right. 3 days has become rather a drag. In this day and age, some feel it necessary to remain off work for all sorts of stuff. 3 days is no time at all to get the housework done or tidy up that garden. 7 also fits in with the sick/fit note system as well as being a round week (though a week is a linear temporal thing rather than being round).

Despite the change being very simple, the HSE consultation document is reasonably long – largely because of the required impact assessment that has to be done. I note the document is 31 pages and the impact assessment starts on page 11 (both prime numbers, just so you conspiracy theorists out there know I’m treating this issue seriously). Despite some costs, overall the HSE conclude it’s likely to be a benefit to real businesses. It’s not all roses – HSE anticipate some difficulties because you won’t be able to directly relate the new data to the old and some may have to get their reporting software tweaked (oh the pain of changing all those 3’s to 7’s will be worse than getting it millennium compliant).

What do I think? I think that those who under reported will simply have more time to under report (nice) and 7 is one of those numbers that just sounds right. We’ll also probably have much better looking gardens too. That should benefit the Big Society and the Happiness Index no end.