By Daniel Hunter

Two reports published today (Monday) reveal the Government is making rapid progress in restoring common sense to health and safety and saving businesses millions of pounds and considerable time every year.

The first, authored by Professor Ragnar Lofstedt, looks at the progress made in implementing the recommendations contained in his 2011 report ‘Reclaiming Health and Safety for all’.

Professor Lofstedt welcomes the fact that many of his proposals to tackle the over-zealous application of health and safety in Britain have already been put into place. The report states that these changes will help businesses focus on growth rather than unnecessary red tape.

The other report finds the Government has already implemented 23 of the 35 recommendations in Lord Young's 2010 report "Commons Sense, Common Safety". Lord Young called for changes to the regulatory system in order to combat the rise of a compensation culture, and address the frequently negative perceptions of health and safety legislation.

Minster for Employment Mark Hoban said: "For too long businesses have been confused by health and safety regulations which cost them money and take up time when they should be focusing on growth.

"Health and safety is important, but its focus should be where risks are high. These reports show just how much progress we have made in restoring clarity to the system, and over the coming months I'll be making sure common sense prevails."

Progress made so far in simplifying health and safety requirements and cutting red tape includes:

- Half of all health and safety legislation will have been reviewed, scrapped or simplified by next year.
- One change - to the regulations on reporting accidents at work - will save businesses £5m over 10 years.
- Another - simplifying the guidelines around how often businesses need to get electrical safety such as kettles and computers tested - is estimated to save businesses £30m.
- By April 2013, one in 10 sets of health and safety regulations will have been scrapped.
- 200 sets of outdated guidelines have been scrapped - one fifth of all health and safety publications.
- Proactive health and safety inspections by HSE have been cut from 33,000 in 2010/11 to less than 22,000 to 2011/12, with inspections focused on where risks are high.
- In its first four months, over 75,000 users have accessed a new Health and Safety "Toolbox". The toolbox makes it easier for businesses to understand their health and safety responsibilities, saving them considerable time every year that might otherwise be wasted on pointless paperwork. 1.2 million business are using HSE website every month to access clear advice about health and safety.
- The public can now challenge official decisions which are taken on the grounds of "health and safety" through the HSE's Myth Busters Challenge Panel. These include Cafes and Restaurants refusing to heat up baby food, and Golf Buggies being banned on a Golf Course!
- Streamlining risk assessment procedures
- Tackling the myths about red tape and other barriers to schools taking pupils on valuable visits and trips by publishing clear new guidelines encouraging schools and local authorities to remove wasteful bureaucracy.

Mary Boughton, chair of the Federation of Small Businesses' Health and Safety committee said: "The FSB welcomes the progress made so far on reforming health and safety and the work being done to cut unnecessary red tape, which will save small businesses time and money.

"It is important that employers can focus on managing real risk, not unnecessary paperwork, and these changes are helping to achieve that."

Professor Lofstedt, author of 'Reclaiming health and safety for all' said: "I am pleased that the government is on track with the implementation of the recommendations of my report and is supporting a more risk- and evidence-based approach to health and safety."

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