About the book
July 2022 marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of the Robens Report, the work of a Committee established in 1970 to review the regulatory system for health and safety at work. The reforms proposed informed the content of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 – a statute that continues to be the core of the current statutory framework of health and safety law in the UK.
The anniversary will no doubt be seen by many as an opportunity to extol the virtues of the Robens Committee’s analysis, defending the fundamental soundness of its prescriptions and that of the framework of law to which it led. This book takes a very different view. It argues that Robens’ recommendations were made on the basis of a flawed analysis of the ‘problems’, a flawed analysis that has become increasingly inappropriate to a world of work that has undergone profound structural change in terms of the types of work people do, the types of industries they work in and the forms of employment with which they are engaged; a process of change that has generated different forms of risk and vulnerability for workers, while also imposing different forms of harm to those apparent in the UK economy more than 50 years ago.
In response, the authors’ recommendations focus not only on reducing the direct harms caused by work through work fatalities, injuries and ill health, but also on the wider adverse and unequal effects on health stemming from low pay, inadequate access to sick pay and compensation and a lack of decent work more generally.
The book has been written in the hope that its analysis will ultimately lead to change and much needed regulatory reforms spanning both health and safety and employment law more generally.