THE Government is to put all health and safety laws under the microscope in a bid to "root out the needless burden of bureaucracy".
Employment minister Chris Grayling will use a speech in London today to take aim at a whole series of regulations, instead suggesting that the focus should be fixed on high hazard sites as opposed to all businesses.
However, the TUC union argues the move is “in no one’s interests” and would see “cowboy companies undercut responsible employers by cutting back on safety”.
Ministers have said new measures will be designed to reduce red tape for businesses and target unqualified health and safety consultants who make misguided decisions.
Businesses with good standards of health and safety would no longer have automatic inspections, with eyes instead trained more keenly on poor performers and sites such as major energy facilities. The new measure would also create a list of acceptable, qualified consultants.
In a speech to be given today, Grayling is to accuse Britain’s “health and safety culture” of “stifling business and holding back economic growth”.
In his address, he will say: “The purpose of health and safety regulation is to protect people at work and rightly so, but we need common sense at the heart of the system, and these measures will help root out the needless burden of bureaucracy. This will help us make Britain a more growth-focused, entrepreneurial nation.”
King’s College London professor Ragnar E Lofstedt will chair the review panel, which will publish its findings in the autumn.
British Chambers of Commerce director general David Frost welcomed the review as long as it was followed by “real action”, reducing the time spent on “tick-box exercises”.
However, TUC general secretary Brendan Barber argued that if businesses knew there would be no inspections, there would be “no incentive for them to ensure they are protecting their workers” and would lead to companies “ignoring the law until they kill or seriously injure someone”.
He said: “The proposals are not only bad for workers’ health and safety, they will also be bad for the economy as the health service and benefits system have to deal with the aftermath of more injuries and illnesses caused through unsafe work.
“The strategy is not about better regulation. It is about deregulation and is all part of a bigger plan to reduce the rights that workers have to safety and fair treatment.”