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Health and safety review revealed

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More details have been given of government plans to inject “common sense” into health and safety.

Lord Young published his full review of current rules, including proposals to force town halls to pay compensation if they wrongly ban events.

It also suggests that teachers be given assurances that they are not liable for everyday mishaps and accidents during school trips and after-hours clubs.

But critics have already accused the Tory former Cabinet minister of focusing on “silly” incidents rather than ensuring people were properly protected at work and in the community.

For local government, Lord Young’s probe concluded:

  • Officials who ban events on health and safety grounds should put their reasons in writing.
  • Citizens should be enabled to have a route for redress where they want to challenge local officials’ decisions. Local authorities will conduct an internal review of all refusals on the grounds of health and safety.
  • Citizens should be able to refer unfair decisions to the Ombudsman, and a fast track process should be implemented to ensure that decisions can be overturned within two weeks. If appropriate, the Ombudsman may award damages where it is not possible to reinstate an event. If the Ombudsman’s role requires further strengthening, then legislation should be considered.

Other findings include:

  • There should be a crackdown on advertising encouraging people to make personal injury claims on a no-win, no-fee basis;
  • Red tape that can prevent children from going on school outings should be scrapped;
  • People performing first aid or Good Samaritan acts should be exempted from being sued.

Lord Young has backed up his reform suggestions with examples including a restaurant that would not give out toothpicks for fear of injury, a headteacher who told pupils not to walk under a conker tree without helmets and a council that banned a pancake race because it was raining.

The government is believed to have approved the report in full and will also implement a crackdown on “ambulance-chasing” personal injury firms.

There will be restrictions on the way they advertise their services and a limit to speculative lawsuits.

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