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Health and safety gets a reshuffle

03 / 07 / 2013
As the UK government works to cut regulatory red tape and make it easier for businesses in the country to trade, one area that has been a hot topic is that of health and safety legislation.

Businesses seeking a change
The issues surrounding health and safety have been a cause for concern among business groups, who have been lobbying for changes to these regulations. One of the areas that has been the biggest point of interest is that of employer liability.

Employer liability: should it stay or should it go?
Business groups, such as the Forum of Private Business, have said that the employer liability clause in health and safety law places unnecessary restraints on small to medium-sized enterprises in particular.

It argues it is unfair that employers are automatically held responsible if somebody has an accident within the workplace, meaning that even the most careful businesses could be the subject of a claim.

But the government could be making moves to get rid of this clause.

Unnecessary investigations
This is not the only area where the government has sought to cut back on health and safety rules.

From May 29th, local authorities will no longer be making random health and safety inspections.

This means that only companies where evidence suggests that employees or the public really are at risk can be investigated.

The move has been welcomed by industry groups, including the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

Chair of its health and safety committee, Maggie Smith, said: "The FSB supports the principles behind the new local authority enforcement code for health and safety at work. We believe that it is important to ensure that all local authority health and safety inspections are consistently risk based and proportionate to ensure that low-risk, compliant businesses are able to concentrate on growth."

Moving forwards
It should not be forgotten that health and safety legislation was implemented with the public in mind. Yet a line has to be drawn where businesses are being held back. Cutting these rules are changes that smaller firms, in particular, desire.