The current government campaign to reduce health and safety red tape in the UK in a bid to help businesses grow and expand is progressing well, according to employment minister Chris Grayling.
Action to implement the findings of the Loftstedt report and the wider Red Tape Challenge were outlined in the latest Budget and the process is continuing to reduce the amount of bureaucracy around health and safety issues.
Mr Grayling noted that the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has already reduced the requirements for reporting accidents at work.
From April 6th this year the regulations concerning the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR) changed to help business cope with health and safety issues easier.
Under the new rules, businesses only need to report accident at work if the person involved is off work from seven days, an increase from the previous three days.
Employers and others with responsibilities under RIDDOR must still keep a record of all over-three day-injuries – if the employer has to keep an accident book, then this record will be enough and the deadline by which the over-seven-day injury must be reported has also increased to 15 days from the day of the accident.
All of the new regulations are designed to reduce the red tape burden on businesses.
Other areas of progress made since the start of the Red Tape Challenge include the publication of new guidance on the electrical testing of portable appliances on an annual basis, the removal of 21 redundant or outdated statutory instruments and the launch of the Myth Busters Challenge Panel to deal with decision made that cite spurious health and safety issues.
A recent ruling made by the panel concerned the use of Blu-tack at a nursery school in Scotland. The firm running the facility banned the use of the product on windows, claiming that it had the potential to explode.
But the demand was debunked by the panel and the firm was ordered to remove the ban.
“Whatever the reason for banning Blu-Tack, it is not on health and safety grounds,” it was reported to have ruled. “The manufacturer’s website makes clear that the product can be used on glass. We see no reason why the children’s creative work should not be displayed for everyone to enjoy.”
Mr Grayling said: “Good health and safety is about protecting people from death and serious injury – not this kind of nonsense. The Myth Busters panel is helping the public fight back against stupid decisions.”
It is led by HSE chair Judith Hackitt, who said: “The amount of cases the panel has taken on clearly shows the extent to which health and safety is being misused as an excuse for banning almost anything. We’ve received outrageous examples of decisions being made in the name of health and safety.”
Mr Grayling explained: “By the end of this process in 2014, 50 per cent of health and safety regulations will either have been reviewed, revoked or improved leaving Great Britain with a simpler, more effective regulatory framework – easing burdens on business and encouraging growth whilst at the same time maintaining the progress that has been made in health and safety outcomes.”