Reforms to UK health and safety regulations will reduce red tape for small businesses — cutting the number of inspections by a third, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has said.

Under the changes to health and safety regulations announced in the Budget, there will no longer be automatic health and safety inspections for all firms. Instead they will focus only on “rogue employers” and high–risk sectors — such as construction — a step that is predicted to reduce the number of inspections by at least a third.

Measures are also being taken to produce a list of qualified health and safety consultants, to prevent “cowboy” inspectors giving inappropriate recommendations. In addition, a review of all existing health and safety legislation will be published in the autumn, in an attempt to cut unnecessary regulations.

“Obviously it’s paramount that workers are protected in their jobs and that remains the case, but where regulation has built up over time and doesn’t serve a purpose, we think the Government should take action and help employers concentrate on growth,”
said a Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) spokeswoman.

TUC general secretary, Brendan Barber said;
“What is the purpose of having very detailed regulation where it’s not needed? A worker in an office doesn’t need the same level of protection as someone on a construction site and it doesn’t serve that worker having a whole raft of regulation.”

However, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) expressed concerns that cutting automatic inspections would lead to an increase in deaths and injuries in the workplace.

“Employers need to know that there is the possibility of a safety inspector visiting, otherwise there will be no incentive for them to ensure they are protecting their workers.”

“Removing proactive inspections from a large number of workplaces mean that employers can get away with ignoring the law until they kill or seriously injure someone.”