Commodious | Regulation Changes, Health and Safety News 11/06/21

A weekly roundup of the most important news concerning health and safety developments, enforcements and regulatory changes.

Implementation date for the Mental Health Units (Use of Force) Act 2018

Even though the Mental Health Units (Use of Force) Act 2018 was given Royal Assent two and a half years ago, an implementation date has not yet been given. However, the Government has recently opened up consultation on draft statutory guidance to go alongside the legislation, which suggests that an implementation date may be released soon.

The legislation aims to prevent inappropriate use of force in inpatient mental health units and will place statutory obligations on the organisations that run inpatient mental health units.

The draft statutory guidance contains additional information detailing the legislation’s requirements and how the Government envisages the implementation of the new rules and obligations.

Health and Safety activity leads to unfair dismissal

A supervisor tasked with implementing a safe system of work was automatically unfairly dismissed after “overzealous” implementation of the system lead to friction between himself and colleagues. The initial tribunal failed to distinguish the work activities from the rection to the work activities.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal overturned the dismissal, detailing a finding of automatic unfair dismissal. The supervisor who was tasked with implementing the system was not advised that a slow change would be needed and other employees were also not informed that a change was being implemented. It was decided that this was the root cause of the friction and not the fault of the supervisor.

All in all, the situation highlights the need for clear communication with workforces about health and safety measures in the workplace, particularly when implementing new changes. Something that should be in the forefront of employers’ minds when staff are now returning to a, potentially, much-changed workplace.

New workers’ watchdog to be set up

On the 8th June 2021, the Government announced a new watchdog for workers will be set up to help protect employment rights. After a long wait, (consultation began in July 2019) it seems that employment law could be set for an update.

The key points from the announcement are:

  • New workers’ watchdog to take over responsibility for tackling modern slavery, enforcing minimum wage, and more.
  • The new body will combine existing organisations into one place to make it easier for employees and businesses to seek guidance and enforcement regarding workers’ rights.
  • Action will be taken against businesses that turn a blind eye to abuses in their supply chains.

The watchdog will be set up through primary legislation “when Parliamentary time allows,” so it may well take a while. In the meantime, audit current working practices and check back for an update in the future.

IT & data protection updates

The ICO has published the first chapter of draft guidance for anonymisation, pseudonymisation, and privacy enhancing technologies

The first chapter of the draft form of the ICO’s anonymisation, pseudonymisation, and privacy enhancing techniques has been published and is available here

The guidance aims to help organisations identify where and how anonymisation techniques should be used most effectively and will go alongside the data sharing code of practice

This first chapter introduces and defines anonymisation and pseudonymisation and shows how they fit into the framework of UK data protection law.

New SCCs published by the European Commission

New standard contractual clauses have been published that will follow the draft implementing decision issued by the European Commission on 12 November 2020. The changes will allow easier selection of relevant clauses for data transfers in a modular system, introduce allowances for new types of transfer, and also provision for multi-party use.

The use of legacy SCCs must stop within 18 months of the official publication in the Journal of the European Union, so businesses will have to act fast to adopt the new templates.

School fined after worker falls from ladder

While working up an unsecured ladder to dismantle a section of roof canopy, a worker suffered fractures to his face and femur when the ladder slipped and caused the worker to fall.

The HSE inspection found that there was no risk assessment or safe system in place for the dismantling of the roof canopy, which led to the work being done unsafely. It was revealed that other work at height was carried out at the school without specific planning or supervision.

The school pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and fined £24,000 and ordered to pay costs of £5,446.