10 September 2012
Government announcement is misleading
The Government has produced a misleading announcement on its
plans to cut red tape to help businesses, a leading health and
safety body said today.
Shops, offices, pubs and clubs will no longer face “burdensome”
health and safety inspections, and over 3,000 regulations will be
scrapped or overhauled in a “radical plan” by the Government to
curb red tape and boost British business growth, according to a
press release issued by the Department for Business, Innovation and
From April next year, Business Secretary Vince Cable plans to
introduce binding new rules on both the Health & Safety
Executive and on local authorities, that will exempt hundreds of
thousands of businesses from regular health & safety
inspections, according to the BIS statement.
Richard Jones, Head of Policy and Public
Affairs at the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health
(IOSH), said: “These sorts of announcements have been made before
and it is very disappointing that everyone immediately starts
pointing the finger at health and safety, which is always seen as
an easy target.
“The talk of reducing around 3,000
regulations and at the same time focusing on health and safety is
misleading. There are only 200 health and safety regulations in
total, so any reduction in these will be a tiny percentage of the
3,000 and so far only 21 have been considered.”
Mr Jones said two recent government reviews, by Lord Young and
Professor Ragnar Löfstedt, and the ‘red tape challenge’ all found
the health and safety system in this country to be broadly ‘fit for
“The problem is with a misunderstanding of
what the real requirements are – so we need better education on
sensible management of risk,” he said. “There is an exaggerated
fear of being sued in this country, fed by aggressive marketing,
which the Government needs to tackle.
“Cuts to inspections are concerning – HSE
already take a risk-based approach, which we support. We also
support the need for consistent and high quality enforcement.
“However, we are concerned that businesses
that currently benefit from proactive inspections and getting
expert advice from ‘the horse’s mouth’ will lose out under this new
regime. The end result is that standards may drop and more people
are killed or injured.”
The Government is planning to introduce legislation next month
to ensure that businesses will only be held liable for civil
damages in health and safety cases if they can be shown to have
acted negligently. BIS said this would end a situation “where
businesses can automatically be liable for damages even if they
were not actually negligent”.
Mr Jones added: “Good health and safety saves
lives, supports business and sustains the economy. We support
streamlining and getting rid of redundant legislation, but not a
lowering of standards.
“It’s vital that people understand the
massive benefits that good health and safety and regulation bring
to the economy and the growth agenda. Government should be
promoting this message.”
- Ends -
Notes for editors:
IOSH is the Chartered body for health and safety professionals.
With more than 42,000 members in 100 countries, we’re the world’s
biggest professional health and safety organisation.
We set standards, and support, develop and connect our members
with resources, guidance, events and training. We’re the voice of
the profession, and campaign on issues that affect millions of
IOSH was founded in 1945 and is a registered charity with
international NGO status.
For more information please contact:
- Tim Walsh, Media
Manager, +44 (0)116 257 3252 or +44 (0)797 660 4715
- Amy Chappell,
Media Officer, +44 (0)116 257 3141 or +44 (0)798 000