Should health and safety inspections be cut?

Aurora 26 May TS

It’s health and safety gone mad – or is it?

We know health and safety is a vital part of any business’ operations. Whatever type of business you are, there is always the possibility of accident or damage to someone’s health.

Good health and safety management is important in tackling accidents and diseases caused by work. It reduces the risk of injury to workers and prevents unnecessary damage to buildings.

But is there too much health and safety regulation? Is it health and safety gone mad?

The government seems to think so, which is why it has announced plans to exempt thousands of businesses from health and safety inspections.

Here are the details:

The new rules, set to be introduced in April 2013, will see checks no longer routinely carried out on premises considered to be low risk, like shops, pubs and clubs.

In future, businesses will only face health and safety inspections if they are operating in higher risk areas such as construction, have had an incident, or have a track record of poor performance.

The government is also 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.

All this is part of an effort to scrap or change more than 3,000 regulations to cut red tape and help boost British business growth, and save firms millions of pounds.

Ministers say health and safety checks can place unnecessary burdens on some businesses; however, some trade unions say the move risks the safety of employees and customers.

Vince Cable, the business secretary, said the government wanted to put “common sense” back into health and safety.

“We want to help give British business the confidence it needs to create more jobs and support the wider economy to grow.”

I welcome any move to free-up businesses from unnecessary or overly-burdensome requirements.

However, I’ll be watching to see if this relaxing of health and safety inspections for low-risk businesses leads some firms to take their eye off the ball a little.