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    PRIME MINISTER CONDEMNS ‘TIDE OF RISK ASSESSMENT FORMS’

    Government promises to free SMEs from stranglehold of H&S red tape

    David Cameron has today (5th January) announced that “tackling the compensation culture and freeing SMEs from the stranglehold of health and safety red tape” are part of a series of measures being taken to back enterprise.

    He was speaking to an audience of small businesses and entrepreneurs at Intuit UK in Maidenhead, David Cameron announced plans to:

    • extend the current scheme that caps the amount that lawyers can earn from small value personal injury claims, and reduce overall costs in cases funded by ‘no win no fee’ deals. The aim is to help bring down the cost of many cases and deter the ‘speculative’ health and safety claims made against good businesses that would appear not to have done anything wrong;
    • change health and safety law on strict liability for civil claims so that businesses are no longer automatically at fault if something goes wrong;
    • investigate the demands made by insurance companies on businesses to ensure that levels of compliance do not force businesses to go far beyond what is actually required by the the law to secure their insurance cover; and
    • write to the CEOs of all major insurance companies, asking them to set out what they will do to deal with this problem. They will be invited to a meeting at Downing Street next month to set out their plans.
    Coalition resolves “kill off” health and safety culture for good

    David Cameron said he is determined to do everything possible to “take the brakes off business” including tax cuts; ‘slashing’ red tape; infrastructure investment and making it much easier for British firms to trade with the world. He added:

    And there is something else we are doing: waging war against the excessive health and safety culture that has become an albatross around the neck of British businesses.

    Talk of ‘health and safety’ can too often sound farcical or marginal. But for British businesses – especially the smaller ones that are so vital to the future of our economy – this is a massively important issue. Every day they battle against a tide of risk assessment forms and face the fear of being sued for massive sums. The financial cost of this culture runs into the billions each year.

    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.”

    TUC dismisses PM health and safety claims

    The Trades Union Congress  (TUC) dismissed the notion that UK businesses are in a ‘stranglehold’ of health and safety ‘red tape’.  TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said:

    This shows just how out of touch with the reality of working life Number 10 is. Every government report on the UK’s supposed compensation culture has shown it to be a myth, and in fact claims have been declining over the past decade. Despite this the government seems hell-bent on trying to stop workers injured by their employers’ negligence being able to claim compensation.

    Workers will be astonished by the claim that there is an ‘excessive health and safety culture that has become an albatross around the neck of British businesses’. The truth is that there are two million people in the UK who have an illness or injury caused by their work – the vast majority of which could have been prevented had their employer had taken the correct safety precautions.

    Nor do businesses ‘battle against a tide of risk assessment forms every year’. The vast majority of employers never carry out any kind of written risk assessments, and for those that do, there is easyto-understand advice available from HSE on how to do them.

    It is clear that Downing Street does not have a clue about what life is like for the millions of ordinary people who work in shops, offices, schools, factories, call centres and other workplaces across the UK. Instead it is making policy in response to grumbles from elements of the small business lobby and the risible rantings of right-wing commentators.’

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