Since the introduction of the Health and Safety at Work Act (HASAWA) in 1974 there has been increasing legislation on health and safety. Landmark regulations stemming from this which have had an impact on many industries are the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations 1988, the Noise at Work Regulations 1990 and the 'six pack' of regulations emanating from the European Community Framework Directive:
In this respect occupational health physicians possess a leading role in enforcing the Health and Safety Executive or the local authority, depending on the type of activity. (Boyle, 1994, p. 10)
The COSHH Regulations have been perhaps the most significant in the development of occupational health and safety measures. A CBI survey in 1993, which showed that 50 per cent of private sector employers had only introduced such measures over the last five years, seems to reflect this trend. To many employers the implementation of safety regulations has been seen as, and indeed is, a burden on both staff and financial resources. Although alterations in work methods, practices, equipment and environment may prove costly, probably the greatest problem has been assessment. These regulations all require an assessment to be made of the risk by a competent person. In organisations which do not have trained safety or occupational health staff it has been difficult to set up suitable assessment programmes. Alternatives have been to:
The concept of risk seems difficult for many managers to grasp. ...