The government is planning to take the bold step of exempting thousands of businesses from health and safety inspections.
From April 2013, many offices, shops, pubs and clubs will no longer have to carry the costs of preparing for, and enduring, detailed investigation of their premises and subsequent compliance with instructions for minor repairs, new signage and revised procedures.
Firms will continue to have a responsibility for the health and safety of their employees and customers, but they should benefit from lower costs as the inspection regime is made considerably lighter.
Businesses operating in high-risk areas or with a poor track record on health and safety will continue to be monitored through inspections.
Vince Cable, Business Secretary, said: “We’re determined to put common sense back into areas like health and safety, which will reduce costs and fear of burdensome inspections.”
Business leaders applaud health and safety changes
Welcoming the new approach, Adam Marshall of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said: “Ensuring that low-risk workplaces are exempt from inspections is a sensible change that will save employers time and money without reducing the safety of workers.”
Alexander Ehmann, head of regulatory policy at the Institute of Directors, called the announcement “good news”, particularly if it was “not the end of the deregulation story”.
While over 3,000 rules are being cut or changed, business groups believe there is scope for more improvement. In the opinion of the BCC: “The overall number of regulations on the books remains far too high.”
Health and safety is just one area of red tape under scrutiny
The government has committed to reducing the level of regulation around business in order to help firms trade more effectively and efficiently. The removal of the rule about health and safety inspections for low-risk settings is just one aspect of this.
Consultation is being encouraged through the Red Tape Challenge, a process that’s allowing anyone to comment on rules that they think are unnecessary or overly restrictive. Beyond health and safety, other areas being looked at are insolvency, pensions, legal services and the environment.