Plans to dilute industrial safety laws abandoned

GOVERNMENT plans for sweeping 'deregulation' of health and safety laws at work have been abandoned.

A White Paper on competitiveness, to be published on Tuesday, will show that ministers have given up most of their proposals to water down existing safety legislation.

Instead, the document will reveal the Government's intention to 'tidy up' the law so that about 100 regulations referring to long extinct industries and processes are repealed.

The drive by Michael Forsyth, the Thatcherite employment minister, to remove what he regarded as 'red tape' has been thwarted by a combination of European legislation and a stout defence of the existing system by the Health and Safety Commission.

The Health and Safety Executive, which operates on behalf of the commission, would have faced a considerable reduction in its role.

Objections to health and safety laws from some employers and safety consultants, on the grounds that they restrained business competitiveness, were seen to have little foundation. Many large companies saw no reason for major surgery to an existing statute which contains 400 sets of regulations.

One informed source said there had been a 'lot of bluff and bluster' by ministers about deregulation of health and safety, but changes to the law suggested by the commission in a review were minimal and that had been accepted by the Government.

Senior factory inspectors say that the Health and Safety Executive had performed an 'exceptional job' in defending the service, and the White Paper would reflect that.

Arguments by ministers that the self-employed in particular were 'over-burdened' with rules have borne little fruit. A proposal that small firms should regulate themselves has been abandoned.

The executive argued in its review paper that there were a range of potential business benefits from existing legislation such as reduction in lost production, less absence through sickness, fewer compensation claims, lower insurance premiums and improvements in quality.

One remaining area of concern for factory inspectors however is that the Government might eventually seek to water down statutory 'codes of practice' which are seen to be almost as regulatory as law itself. That was a 'real danger' according to one source.

The review of the work of the executive began a year ago and involved seven task groups made up of nominees from the CBI and trade unions, and one representative of small business.

They tested each piece of legislation against three criteria: whether the law was relevant and necessary; an assessment of the burdens on business; and whether the potential benefits justified the regulations.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Photographer / Floorplanner / Domestic Energy Assessor

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Photographer/ Floor planner /...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence