Government to cut health and safety 'monster'

Published:  06 January, 2012

MAIDENHEAD: David Cameron has pledged to cut back the health and safety legislation "monster" by capping lawyers' referral fees for personal injury claims against employers.

The Prime Minister declared that health and safety legislation had become an "albatross around the neck of British businesses", costing billions of pounds a year and leaving entrepreneurs in fear of speculative claims.

He vowed to "kill off the health and safety culture for good" by reducing the costs incurred through no-win no-fee deals, cutting back red tape and making the self-employed exempt from certain rules.

Mr Cameron, speaking to an audience of small businesses in Maidenhead, Berkshire, also disclosed that he had asked the Health and Safety Executive to bring forward to the end of 2012 its timetable for abolishing or consolidating up to half of all existing regulations.

His comments were branded "appalling and unhelpful" by Richard Jones, head of policy and public affairs at the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health.

Mr Jones said: "Labelling workplace health and safety as a monster is appalling and unhelpful, as the reason our legislative system exists is to prevent death, injury or illness at work, protecting livelihoods in the process.

"The problem identified by the government's own reviews is not the law, but rather, exaggerated fear of being sued, fed by aggressive marketing."

"Every year in Britain workplace injuries kill more than 150 people, maim thousands and hospitalise tens of thousands more. We believe strongly that good health and safety is good for business, and will continue to actively make this case," said Kevin Myers, deputy chief executive, health and safety executive.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "Workers will be astonished by the claim that there is an 'excessive health and safety culture that has become an albatross around the neck of British businesses'. The truth is that there are two million people in the UK who have an illness or injury caused by their work – the vast majority of which could have been prevented had their employer had taken the correct safety precautions."

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