Prime minister vows to “kill off the health and safety culture for good”
In his most strident attack yet on health and safety David Cameron has pledged to cut back the “monster” he says it has become, free business from the “stranglehold” of red tape it creates, and reduce the “pointless time-wasting” it causes for the economy.
Speaking to an audience of small-business owners and entrepreneurs in Maidenhead this morning Mr Cameron outlined the Government’s plans to make it easier for them to cope with “the great big machine of health and safety that has built up over the years”.
As well as cutting back rules and regulations, and examining the way in which they are enforced to ensure it is reasonable, specific steps he will take include:
- capping the amount lawyers can earn from personal-injury claims of up to £25,000 as a way of reducing overall costs in cases funded by ‘no win, no fee’ deals. This, said the prime minister, would tackle the compensation culture, and address the fear from businesses of being sued for trivial, or excess claims;
- changing the law on strict liability in civil health and safety cases so that employers are no longer automatically at fault if something goes wrong. This stems from a recommendation by Prof Ragnar Löfstedt in his review published last November, in which he called for a review of all strict-liability offences by June 2013; and
- investigating the demands made by insurance companies to ensure that levels of compliance do not force businesses to go far beyond what is actually required by law to secure their insurance cover.
According to Mr Cameron, these are the first steps in the “war” he intends to wage against the “excessive health and safety culture that has become an albatross around the neck of British businesses”.
He concluded: “So this coalition has a clear New Year’s resolution: to kill off the health and safety culture for good. I want 2012 to go down in history not just as Olympics year or Diamond Jubilee year, but the year we get a lot of this pointless time-wasting out of the British economy and British life once and for all.”
IOSH was “appalled” at the prime minister’s “unhelpful” comments, pointing out that the reason the health and safety legislative system exists is to prevent death, injury, or illness at work, and protect livelihoods in the process.
The Institution’s head of policy and public affairs, Richard Jones, added: “The problem identified by the Government’s own reviews is not the law, but rather exaggerated fear of being sued, fed by aggressive marketing.”€
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