By Max Clarke
Health and safety laws are facing an extensive review in a bid to reduce the bureaucracy stifling enterprise in the UK.
The move has been welcomed as a boost to industry by the CBI (Confederation for British Industry) and manufacturing group EEF, though the Unite union has reacted negatively to what could endanger workers.
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: ”Cutting bureaucracy is the continuing mantra of this coalition, but it could be dangerous rhetoric if it translates into fewer inspections and a subsequent rise in deaths and injuries in factories, on construction sites, on farms and in workplaces across the UK.
”Health and safety regulations have been developed over decades with the purpose of protecting the 29 million people currently at work in the UK — there can be no compromises on this. Using the argument of ‘cutting bureaucracy’ should not be used as camouflage for compromising on safety.
Voicing his support of the news is Neil Carberry, CBI Director for Employment Affairs:
“These proposals should inject some common sense into health and safety regulation, by targeting higher risk sectors and improving the advice given by consultants.
“The UK has a good record on health and safety, and incidents are falling year-on-year, although more can always be done to reduce workplace injuries and deaths.
“What we must avoid is devaluing health and safety regulation by taking an over-cautious approach and using it as an excuse not to do things. Instituting a review of the current law by Professor Lofstedt is a sensible step.
“We are concerned by proposals to increase employer charging. The CBI will work constructively with the HSE to ensure any increases in charges fall only where material dangers that a firm should have dealt with are found. Businesses should not be faced with fees for minor technical breaches.”