Robens and pre-Robens Occupational Health and Safety Legislation
This report is an analysis of the Robens and pre-Robens occupational health and safety legislation.
The Robens Committee of Inquiry was set up by the British Government, in 1970, precisely because of concerns that the traditional system, based upon the framework of the nineteenth century British Factory Acts, was too rigid and complex and unable to keep pace with social, economic and technological change. The mass of legislation was therefore reviewed by the Robens Committee, which concluded that in spite of this law, there had been no significant reduction in the numbers of people killed and injured at work.
The objective of this report is to compare and contrast the styles of legislation and provide an analysis of their key similarities and differences. It will also outline the main strengths of the Robens philosophy of occupational health and safety regulation.
The terms of reference used are mainly the Robens report, the Health and Safety at Work Act, the British Factory Act and some pre-Robens legislation in Australia and News Zealand and some articles written over the years on the subject. The observations made are mainly based on the Health and Safety at Work Act. This is mainly because; its measures and its philosophy have come to represent the essence of the universal approach to regulating health and safety. It has also been influential in legislative reforms in many countries, particularly those whose legal systems are based on the British model, such as Australia and New Zealand. The Robens Committee’s recommendations, although far from universally accepted, subsequently provided the basic building blocks for the Health and Safety at Work Act.
This report covers the following, an analysis of the styles of legislation, an assessment of the main strengths of the Robens philosophy and identification of the similarities and differences between the two styles of legislation.
2. Broad Overview of the Legislation:
2.1 Pre-Robens Legislation Summary:
The British health and safety law was a mess prior to 1970. There were several separate pieces of legislation covering a multitude of dangerous substances and situations at work. These were administered by nine separate Government departments. It was gradually realized that rigid enforcement of the law would be impracticable and would lead to reduction of industrial competitiveness and an overload of the court system.
The pre-Robens style legislation was prescriptive in regulating factories, mines and shops. It relied heavily upon enforcing certain standards and detailed rules. Although inspections were designed to detect contraventions of the rules, there were few prosecutions for offences. The model relied upon detailed, highly technical specification standards. It was enforced by an independent state inspectorate, vested with broad inspection powers, and relying on negotiated...