3 February 2014

The Prime Minister, David Cameron, has reaffirmed the Government’s deregulation agenda, including with respect to “needless health and safety inspections” and “over-zealous rules”.

He was speaking at a recent Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) conference as he pledged to scrap or amend more than 3000 rules, with saving of more than £850 million a year.

In a press statement before the address, David Cameron said, “This government has already stopped needless health and safety inspections. And we will scrap over-zealous rules which dictate how to use a ladder at work or what no-smoking signs must look like. We’ve changed the law so that businesses are no longer automatically liable for an accident that isn’t their fault. And the new Deregulation Bill will exempt one million self-employed people from health and safety law altogether.”

In response, Richard Jones, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), said, “IOSH fully supports the simplification of legislation and guidance, but is against lowering of standards that could lead to more accidents and deaths. As we have made clear to Government, we think it would be unhelpful, unnecessary and unwise to exempt certain self-employed from health and safety law, as the Government is proposing — causing more of a hindrance than a help.”

He added, “Health and safety is often misunderstood and wrongly labelled as a barrier to business — whereas in fact, it sustains business growth and success… It’s important to remember that health and safety failures in the UK cost a staggering £13.4 billion per year, double this once you take into account the cost of occupational cancers and property damage. Good health and safety saves lives, supports business and sustains the economy.”