Law on health and safety set to be reviewed

HEALTH and safety red tape that costs businesses billions of pounds a year could be slashed.

The Prime Minister will today announce the appointment of Lord Young as health and safety tsar, charged with finding a “sensible new approach” to avoid “overwhelming businesses with red tape”.

Lord Young, who was the special adviser that helped Sir Keith Joseph usher in privatisation in 1979, said he would inject “common sense” into rules that have become a massive burden on businesses in recent years.

Young will also be asked to investigate the growth of Britain’s compensation culture, which has led to a huge increase in so-called “ambulance chaser” law firms that target employees involved in work-related accidents.

David Cameron said: “The rise of the compensation culture over the last ten years is a real concern, as is the way health and safety rules are sometimes applied.”

He added: “We need a sensible new approach that makes clear these laws are intended to protect people, not overwhelm businesses with red tape.”

Lord Young said health and safety legislation was essential in some industries, but that it had become an “unnecessary burden” on firms and public sector organisations.

“I hope my review will reintroduce an element of common sense and focus the regulation where it is most needed. We need a system that is proportionate and not bureaucratic,” he added.

According to the Forum of Private Business, small and medium-sized companies spend over £2bn-a-year to comply with existing guidelines.

However, it is not clear how much power Cameron actually has to roll back health and safety legislation, as many of the laws are dictated by EU directives.