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GOVERNMENT BACKS SCRAPPING ‘LOW RISK’ ASSESSMENT

Business leader taskforce targets written ‘burdensome’ risk assessments

Prime Minister David Cameron has today welcomed business-led proposals to cut back EU regulation.

Thirty recommendations, drawn up by a taskforce comprising business leaders from the UK business community appointed by PM, were presented to Cabinet this morning (15th Oct).

The report‘Cut EU red tape’, sets out how the EU could promote enterprise and boost growth by “sweeping away poorly understood and burdensome rules and preventing similarly pointless legislation in the future”.

The proposals include “scrapping EU-wide requirements for small businesses in low-risk sectors to keep written health and safety risk assessments. These record-keeping requirements cost businesses time and money and scrapping would save businesses across the EU an estimated €2.7 billion.”

PM calls for commitment to sweep away unnecessary bureaucratic barriers

Welcoming the report, the Prime Minister said:

“All too often EU rules are a handicap for firms, hampering their efforts to succeed in the global race. Business people, particularly owners of small firms, are forced to spend too much time complying with pointless, burdensome and costly regulations. I’m determined to change that and to get the EU working for business, not against it.

This report makes clear that there are lots of simple and practical ways to cut EU red tape and save businesses across Europe tens of billions of euros. At next week’s European Council, I’ll be calling for a clear commitment to sweep away unnecessary bureaucratic barriers and to unleash private sector growth – helping to secure the economic recovery for all.”

The report states:

“Small businesses are required to keep written health and safety risk assessments, even if they are working in a low-risk sector. These record-keeping requirements cost businesses time and money. The Health and Safety at Work Framework Directive requires all businesses to keep written records of risk assessments carried out in their workplace, regardless of risk.

Managing risk to health and safety is about farmore than keeping the right records. European states should therefore be free to exempt small businesses carrying oulow-risk activities from the burden of record-keeping. This would benefit at least 220,000 UK small businesses, and save businesses across the EU an estimated €2.7 billion.

The European Commission should give national governments the flexibility to decide when small, low-risk businesses need to keep written risk assessments. National governments are best placed to judge which businesses are low-risk, and should be able to decide where exempting businesses from record-keeping is appropriate.”

Comment

The report states the EU requirement is for “all businesses to keep written records of risk assessments carried out”. This is not quite accurate.

The relevant UK statute requires that: “Where the employer employs five or more employees he shall record the significant findings of the assessment”.

The report calls for removal of the requirement on ‘ small businessess’ and ‘low risk sectors’ neither of which is defined. The definition of low risk is is unlikely to include construction work.

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