Health and safety rules changes provoke angry reaction from unions

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The UK government has confirmed it intends to put in place a “major cutback” of health and safety ‘red tape’ – the move has provoked angry reactions from trade unions.

Following a government-commissioned report led by Professor Ragnar Lofstedt of King’s College London, Tory-Lib Dem coalition ministers aim to abolish many of the current health and safety regulations with the aim of annulling the first rules from the statute book over the coming months.

The coalition intends to entirely remove a million self-employed workers from health and safety regulation.  Health and safety regulations will be cut by approximately 50% over the coming three years and employers will not be held responsible for damages when they have done all they can to manage risks.

Employment minister Chris Grayling said: “By accepting the recommendations of Prof Lofstedt we are putting common sense back at the heart of health and safety.

“Our reforms will root out needless bureaucracy and be a significant boost to the million self-employed people who will be moved out of health and safety regulation altogether.”

Director of policy at the British Chambers of Commerce, Dr Adam Marshall, said: “No employer wants to see accidents, injuries or fatalities in the workplace, but health and safety regulation does sometimes create an unnecessary burden on businesses.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: “It is time the government stopped tinkering around with regulations to save business from non-existent ‘red-tape’ and instead started looking at what positive steps it could take to improve Britain’s health and safety record.”