The Government has pledged a more “common sense” approach to health and safety after the publication of a review into the current regulations.
In his report ‘Common Sense, Common Safety’, Lord Young highlighted a growing compensation culture, where businesses were becoming increasingly worried of having to pay out for the most unreasonable of claims.
He wrote: “For too long, health and safety has been allowed to become a joke in the media and among the public. It’s about time it was taken seriously.”
Among the range of recommendations, Lord Young has called for a simplified procedure for personal injury claims similar to that for road traffic accidents under £10k on a fixed costs basis.
“Health and Safety is second only to employment legislation in the list of red tape that adds unreasonable cost and liability to local companies”
He suggests a simplification of the risk assessment procedure for low hazard workplaces, and to exempt employers from risk assessments for employees working from home in a low hazard environment.
The report has been welcomed by the British Chambers of Commerce. Dr Adam Marshall, Director of Policy and External Affairs at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said: “Lord Young’s recommendations are both sensible and overdue. Businesses have long said that health and safety rules cannot be applied to hazardous environments and offices in the same way – and that there are too many burdens involved in allowing employees to work from home.
“These recommendations have the potential to reduce business costs and time-consuming bureaucratic burdens by managing risk in a far more sensible way. They will also give companies greater confidence to create jobs.”
Richard Glover, chief executive of the Cornwall Chamber of Commerce said that complicated and sometimes impractical legislation can hold back many small businesses.
“Health and Safety is second only to employment legislation in the list of red tape that adds unreasonable cost and liability to local companies,” he said.
“Nobody wants to endanger their employees and customers but some of the rules apply equally to high risk environments and your average office. The risk to health and safety is clearly not the same.
“We agree with the BCC that there are some very practical steps that would begin to reduce the burden. Certainly we should simplify the risk assessment procedure for low hazard workplaces such as offices, classrooms and shops. The HSE should create simpler interactive risk assessments for low hazard workplaces.”