Industry warms to red tape bonfire
By Anthony Clark
Posted 12 September 2012
The government’s planned scrapping of excessive red tape and “burdensome health and safety inspections” for low-risk businesses has been warmly received by industry bodies.
Announcing the initiative, Business Secretary Vince Cable said: "Removing unnecessary red tape and putting common sense back into areas like health and safety will reduce fears and costs for businesses. We want to help give British business the confidence it needs to create more jobs and support the wider economy to grow."
Katja Hall, the CBI’s chief policy director, called the proposals “encouraging”, adding: “Given that half of firms say health and safety checks are a burden, and they are disproportionately costly for smaller firms, freeing low-risk businesses from tick-box inspections makes obvious sense.
“Crucially, this will also focus inspectors’ time on the cases that really matter.”
But Philip Law, public and industrial affairs director t the British Plastics Federation (BPF), sounded a note of caution. “To get rid of unnecessary red tape is exactly what we want but we do need to carry on demonstrating that we are a responsible industry with robust health and safety practices. Let's hope that the baby isn't being thrown out with the bathwater.
“The BPF is committed to SIMPL, the voluntary Strategy for Improving Health and Safety in the Plastics industry. The moral arguments aside, let's not forget that an accident doesn't just involve paperwork, it means disrupted production and additional replacement costs.”
The views of the British Safety Council (BSC) echoed those of Law. There is clear evidence of the financial and social benefits well managed proportionate health and safety brings to both employers and employees, according to the organisation.
Alex Botha, the chief executive of the BSC, said: “The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and local authorities are charged with making adequate arrangements for the enforcement of health and safety law in relation to specified work activities. No-one should interfere with that.”
The Forum of Private Business largely welcomed the proposed changes to the regulations but pointed to several similar red tape busting initiatives unveiled over the past few years that have not worked.
“I hope that this latest scheme will actually reduce the bureaucratic burdens to running a business and not simply be more hot air while small business owners are left to foot the bill,” said the forum’s senior policy adviser, Alex Jackman.
“If it brings about a true risk-based culture to workplace health and safety law, and removes the less common sense elements that currently face business owners every day, then it is very welcome indeed.”
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