Health and safety reforms

“We can’t do that anymore because of health and safety.”

The above statement may become substantially less common, if the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) comes good on its word to reduce health and safety regulations by up to half over the next three years. Is this just a political gimmick or a genuinely useful change?

Employment Minister Chris Grayling states that the move would help to “root out needless bureaucracy”, and we could all do with less of that. Examples of overly onerous health and safety rules have been known to prevent such things as royal wedding street parties and egg and spoon races at schools. In the recruitment industry employers may be held accountable for accidents even where they have taken all steps possible to manage risk.

200 existing regulations will be reviewed with the government “combining, simplifying and reducing”, all in the name of making it easier to do business in the UK. Interestingly, the DWP is suggesting that health and safety rules should no longer be applicable to those who are self employed, whose work poses no risk of harm to others. The Trade Union Congress argues that this could put certain individual’s safety at risk, but self-employed contractors may welcome the news, along with the increased practical freedom and decreased financial burden it may bring.

Whether the regulations go too far for some, or not far enough for others, many will be pleased that the effectiveness of the health and safety regime is being questioned. Furthermore this initiative does look like a genuine attempt to improve an area of policy that has come under heavy criticism in recent years.

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