HEALTH AND SAFETY OF WORKERS AT WORK (11810/06)
Letter from the Chairman to Lord Hunt
of Kings Heath, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work
and Pensions, Department for Work and Pensions
Your Explanatory Memorandum dated 11 September
was considered by Sub-Committee on 2 November.
We note that the proposed Directive appears
to be a sensible and cost-saving measure put forward under an
appropriate legal base.
Just two points arise upon which we would appreciate
some further information.
(a) We feel that the form of drafting of Article
2 of the draft Directive that "the structure of the report
shall be defined by the Commission" does seem to leave matters
rather more open-ended for the future than might be desirable,
despite the provision that this would be done "in cooperation
with the Advisory Committee on Safety and Health at Work".
Could a revised Article 2 be suggested that gives rather more
assurance that an excessive reporting burden cannot be introduced
in the future?
(b) We note that the Health and Safety Executive
(HSE) are carefully considering the respective merits of the extension
of the new Directive to three new risks relating respectively
to asbestos, biological agents and carcinogens. We would be grateful
to hear from you about the outcome of this study.
We will continue to retain this document under
scrutiny pending your response to these two issues.
3 November 2006
Letter from Lord Hunt of Kings Heath to
Thank you for your letter of 3 November 2006
on this proposed directive. I am pleased your Committee share
the view that the proposed Directive is a sensible and cost-saving
You have asked for futher information on the
drafting of Article 2 and the respective merits of the extension
of the new directive to the asbestos, biological agents and carcinogens
directives, and I will address each of these points in turn:
ARTICLE 2 OF
At the Social Questions Working Party (SQWP)
meeting of 25 October the following amendments (in bold type below)
to Articles 17(a)(1) and (2) of the Directive were agreed by Member
"This single report will provide the
opportunity to take stock of various aspects of the practical
implementation of the Directives".
"The structure of the report, together
with a questionnaire specifying its content, shall be defined
by the Commission, in cooperation with the Advisory Committee
on Safety and Health at Work. It shall include a general part
on the provisions of this Directive dealing with the principles
and common aspects applicable to all the Directives referred
to in paragraph 1. The general section will be complemented
by specific chapters on the implementation of the individual
Directives, dealing with the aspects particular to each
HMG considers that these amendments limit the
scope of what is required in the report. The EC's Advisory Committee
on Safety and Health at Work is most unlikely to agree to the
Commission significantly extending the reporting burden, especailly
given the better regulation stance of many Member States, particularly
the UK, Denmark, The Netherlands, Germany and the Member States
who joined in 2004.
In addition, an amendment has been proposed
to Article 17(a)(4) that requires the Commission to report on
the implementation of the Directives concerned within 36 months
of the end of the five-year periods. This new requirement on the
Commission commits them to evaluating the data received (which
we support) to a deadline. It also places an additional burden
on their own resources to produce this evaluation and, with this
in mind, it is unlikely an excessive reporting burden will be
made on Member Statesbecause the larger the reports, the
more work is required of the Commission to evaluate them.
As outlined in the Explanatory Memorandum, the
respective merits of this extension to the asbestos, biological
agents and carcinogens directives were given careful consideration.
Although the proposal extends the reporting
obligations to these three directives, the proposed new arrangement
will allow, for the first time, a comprehensive, across the board
view of the whole EC health and safety acquis, at both Member
State and EU level. It will facilitate a thorough examination
of its impact, potential overlaps and an evaluation of its effectiveness.
This in turn could flag up areas for further simplification and
for the removal of unnecessary or duplicate administrative burdens.
We will be able to look at the acquis strategically and possibly
identify key themes for particular scrutiny. This will be aided
by the addition of the annexes on the three additional directives.
Although this will mean there will be some additional
costs to the HSE policy teams responsible for compiling these
reports, there will be savings for those teams responsible for
directives with existing reporting requirements.
The benefits fall chiefly on the governments,
as authors of the reports, and representative groups such as TUC
and CBI, as primary consultees of the reports, rather than businesses
themselves. The fixed reporting cycle should ensure that the reports
are all presented to the EC at the same time and the general section
of the revised reporting structure will avoid the requirement
to duplicate this information for each directive (as was previously
required). Moreovere, the preparation of the detailed annexes
at the same point of time will bring economies of scale in extracting
information from data files.
Therefore, on balance, the HSE believes the
benefits of reporting on the three extra directives outweigh the
I hope this letter addresses the Committee's
concerns and they will now be able to formally provide scrutiny
13 November 2006
Letter from the Chairman to Lord Hunt
of Kings Heath
Thank you for your letter of 13 November, this
was considered by Sub-Committee G on 30 November.
We are grateful for your direct and full replies
dealing with the points raised in my letter of 3 November which
related to: the extension of reporting arrangements to three additional
risks; and the future arrangements for specifying the scope of
On the basis of this information, we are now
content to release this document from scrutiny.
6 December 2006