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week, although it is unclear on how time spent ‘on-call’ should be treated, not least because nobody knows what we mean by ‘on-call’ in a world of ubiquitous technology. In April 2009 the initial negotiations from the EU came to an end without agreement. In March 2010, the European Commission started a new consultation looking at the options for reform and will now be preparing formal proposals this year. Given the long and troubled history of this legislation, another delay is not out of the question.


SAFETY AT WORK The enduring health and safety war is now reaching its latest phase. Already organisations like the HSE are showing signs of growing tired of the criticisms they face and in 2012, there will be blood. Prime Minister David Cameron has vowed to wage war against what he calls the ‘excessive health and safety culture’ in the UK. How this is resolved will depend very much on how various stakeholders respond to the findings of last year’s Löfstedt Review. The report, carried out by Professor Ragnar Löfstedt of Kings College,


looked at 200 pieces of health and safety law. His recommendations will aim to simplify and streamline regulations, focus enforcement on higher risk businesses, clarify obligations and rebalancing the civil litigation system.

That all sounds great but there is concern about what it will all mean in practice. The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) responded by claiming the Government’s views on health and safety could be problematic, especially by exempting smaller firms and the self- employed. In its response IOSH says exempting people whose jobs don’t pose a risk to others is unnecessary and unhelpful. There isn’t long to discuss it, with a first stage deadline of June 2012, so this is another story that will run and run. All we know is that things will change significantly.


Commercial buildings are responsible for around half of the UK’s energy consumption and carbon emissions,


which is why there is so much focus on relevant standards; especially the Building Research Establishment’s Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) which is currently the UK’s most widely used system. The BRE reckons that around a quarter of all commercial buildings built each year are BREEAM assessed. BREEAM

has been the subject of quite some criticism in the past but has been revised extensively over the last few years. The scheme was re- launched for new buildings in 2011 and a version for refurbishments and fit- outs is being developed for launch in 2012.

Doubtless BRE is very much aware of the Ska fit-out rating system launched by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors in 2009 and revised in March 2011. Having competing standards does not always help firms to understand their obligations in this remorselessly complex area, but the new standards are a welcome development nonetheless.

F GAS REGULATION F gases form part of the Kyoto Protocol’s ‘basket’ of greenhouse gases. Action to manage emissions of F gases has been taken under the Kyoto Protocol which runs to 2012. The EU framework has been fully implemented in Great Britain by the Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases Regulations 2009 (FGG Regulations 2009). The regulation applies to almost any building with an air-conditioning system that uses refrigerants and coolants. It’s a weighty piece of legislation beyond the scope of this comment so if you have any concerns it is worth getting advice either from an installer or from the DEFRA website.

It’s also a problematic piece of legislation because so far it is failing to reduce the level of emissions demanded by Kyoto. So, as part of a consultation begun at the end of 2011 and again due to be finished in the first half of 2012, the EU is proposing a series of amendments including bans on new equipment containing F gases, extending the regulations to other systems and phasing out F gases.

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