Unions attack health and safety curbs
Plans to exempt a majority of businesses from regular health and safety inspections have met with opposition from union leaders.
The new regulations – to come in to force in April 2013 – mean commercial property deemed ‘low risk’, such as shops, offices, pubs and restaurants, will no longer be required to carry out routine health and safety checks.
The government intends to scrap or amend more than 3,000 regulations, arguing the cuts to bureaucracy will save companies millions of pounds. Business Minister Michael Fallon said the changes would include an overhaul of employment legislation, but would not put employees’ safety at risk.
‘High risk’ industries such as construction and food production will still be subject to inspections, whilst other will only be considered on the basis of a poor track record, or in the event of an accident.
Business Secretary Vince Cable believes these measures will free up bosses from “unnecessary red tape”, he said: "I've listened to those concerns and we're determined to put common sense back into areas like health and safety, which will reduce costs and fear of burdensome inspections."
Some trade union leaders have since voiced concern, with general workers’ union GMB stating that the safety of employees and customers was being put at risk.
Rail Maritime and Transport (RMT) union leader Bob Crow called it an “all-out attack on safety”, which could have “lethal consequences for workers and the public alike as businesses are given the green light to cut corners".
He said: "This isn't about cutting red tape, it's about cutting the throat of safety regulations and the trade unions will mobilise a massive campaign of resistance".
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