MINIMUM HEALTH AND SAFETY REQUIREMENTS
REGARDING THE EXPOSURE OF WORKERS TO THE RISKS ARISING FROM PHYSICAL
AGENTS: OPTICAL RADIATION (10678/04)
Letter from Lord Hunt, Parliamentary Under-Secretary
of State for Work and Pensions, Department for Work and Pensions
to the Chairman
Thank you for your letter of 15 December.
In your letter of 7 April 2005
to my predecessor Jane Kennedy, you regretted that the initial
RIA did not include any possible impact on small businesses due
to the pace at which negotiations were moving. The Health and
Safety Executive had at that time already started to address this
matter and carried out a telephone survey of a number of small
firms principally involved with laser radiation sources. The companies
generally employed less than 10 people and were selected through
contact with their trade associations and other relevant sources
of information. The companies chosen reflected a geographical
spread across the country. Each company was told about the requirements
of the Directive and sent a copy. We did not receive any subsequent
responses indicating that there would be an adverse impact on
their business. The companies were generally well aware of the
need to undertake risk assessments and worked closely with their
trade associations from whom they obtained much support.
You already know from my letter of 30 November
that the Directive has now changed substantially since the initial
proposal following the removal of the natural radiation (sunlight)
provisions. As a Directive that now deals solely with optical
radiation from artificial sources including laser sources, it
is in keeping with the European Commission's commitment to better
regulation. The Exposure Limit Values are based on the well-accepted
international guidelines and the requirements in the Directive
do not add significantly to dutyholders existing requirements
under current health and safety legislation.
The Health and Safety Commission will be issuing
a formal consultation document in due course with draft regulations
and this will provide an opportunity for all stakeholders to provide
The revision of the RIA on the amended proposal
that is now in line with the Government's position is being undertaken.
It will indicate a significant decrease in burdens on business
due to the sunlight proposals being entirely removed. I should
be able to send you a copy by the end of January.
16 January 2006
Letter from the Chairman to Lord Hunt
Thank you for your letter dated 16 January which
was considered by Sub-Committee G on 9 February.
We are grateful to you for explaining about
the Health and Safety Executive's consultation of small organisations
and for pointing out that, now the sunlight provisions have been
removed, compliance requirements are unlikely to add significantly
to the duties required by existing UK health and safety legislation.
As you know, we have already lifted the scrutiny
reserve in this matter. Nevertheless, we would be glad to see
the revised RIA promised in your letter. As it is not entirely
clear from this correspondence whether the amended Proposal has
now been adopted, we would be grateful if you could also clarify
the position when replying.
10 February 2006
Letter from Lord Hunt to the Chairman
Further to my letter of 16 January, I am enclosing
a revised Regulatory Impact Assessment together with a copy of
the text agreed at the conciliation meeting on 6 December (not
printed). The Council will adopt this text on 20 February and
the Parliament shortly thereafter.
As I indicated in my previous letter, the RIA
confirms a significant decrease in costs with the removal of the
sunlight provisions and the associated decrease in burdens on
business. This is a successful outcome that is compatible with
the UK's better regulation agenda.
28 February 2006
Letter from the Chairman to Lord Hunt
Thank you for your letter dated 28 February
which was considered by Sub-Committee G on 16 March.
We are pleased to see that the RIA confirms
that a significant decrease in costs is expected, following the
removal of the controversial sunlight provisions.
We are also grateful for the copy of the text
agreed at conciliation meeting on 6 December 2005. We note that
the Council adopted this text on 20 February and that European
Parliament is expected to do so shortly.
16 March 2006
212 Correspondence with Ministers, 45th Report of
Session 2005-06, HL Paper 243, p 659. Back
Correspondence with Ministers, 45th Report of Session 2005-06,
HL Paper 243, pp 657-658. Back