Red tape to be cut says health and safety boss

HEALTH and safety regulation is due to be cut back and simplified, the government’s safety regulator has pledged, following warnings that business is being stifled by red tape.

Judith Hackitt, the chairman of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), said that workplace regulation has become a “burden of bureaucracy” and promised to confront a “compensation culture”.

She said that small businesses were often advised to be risk averse, and that insurance firms needed to be bolder in fighting spurious claims.

“You do unfortunately get a whole host of spurious claims made by people who essentially jump on the bandwagon,” Hackitt told The Sunday Telegraph. “We want to take away that burden of bureaucracy that seems to get in people’s way.”

Earlier this year, David Cameron called health and safety rules a “monster” that damages the economy, and said the government needs to “kill off the culture for good”.

The HSE is reviewing health and safety laws after an independent report recommended scrapping several measures including the principle of “strict liability”, which holds employers responsible for accidents regardless of the steps they take to prevent them. Several regulations are due to be scrapped in October.

Hackitt’s comments would be welcomed by many businesses, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said yesterday. “Over the years, the principles of good health and safety have been made more complex by a culture of over-compliance, which puts having the right paperwork above seeing the right behaviours on the ground,” Neil Carberry, the CBI’s director for employment and skills, told City A.M.

Hackitt pledged to get rid of red tape without affecting the level of protection provided by HSE laws.