Nearly half (47%) of businesses claim regulation around health and safety issues is a burden on their business, according to a new British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) survey of nearly 6,000 employers.

In addition, a fifth of sole traders identified health and safety regulation as a barrier to taking on their first employee.
In its report, the BCC recommends that regulation should be tailored to the risk level of the workplace and that low-risk businesses should not be treated in the same manner as high-risk firms.

It also recommends streamlining and simplifying legislation to reduce costs and confusion, stating that “the sheer number of laws causes uncertainty and means health and safety is in danger of being a tick-box exercise”.

In addition, it calls on the Government to review the UK implementation of EU Directives.
Commenting on the report, David Frost, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, said:
“Health and safety regulation in the workplace is important, but it must be made more industry-specific. The UK has a good record on health and safety and preventing accidents at work. However, employers are dealing with a multitude of regulations that do not necessarily add to the safety of workers. The Government’s Red Tape Challenge lists 131 separate health and safety regulations. The sheer volume of rules causes confusion for employers, particularly amongst smaller firms without the resource to tackle this.

“Good health and safety legislation is crucial in high-risk environments and must protect employees from genuinely dangerous hazards in the workplace. But time and time again, we hear of unnecessary and unreasonable examples of health and safety. For example, homeworkers are treated in the same way as those working on site, with the employer forced to conduct ever-more elaborate and costly assessments of the employee’s home environment.

“Where regulation is irrelevant or misapplied, we are asking the Government to consolidate and simplify. We welcome the Government’s Löfstedt’s review into health and safety, and hope this will deliver for business. Only a straightforward and more proportionate system of health and safety regulation will make it easier for employers to comply, and allow them to focus on growing their businesses, driving employment and contributing to economic growth.”