Health and safety rules to be relaxed for low-risk businesses

September 10th, 2012 Category: Building Management

Low-risk businesses are to benefit from a relaxation of the UK's health and safety regulations.

Under the current system, employers are required to undergo health and safety inspections. However, the government is concerned that many businesses find this highly "burdensome" and costly.

As a result, it is changing the rules so that only those businesses with a poor track record of adhering to health and safety standards have to be inspected, along with firms in the construction sector and other high-risk industries.

The coalition believes this will help to free up time and resources for businesses so they can concentrate their efforts on trying to expand and drive economic growth.

However, this does not represent a green light for companies in low-risk sectors to reduce their focus on health and safety – particularly as they will be liable to undergo future inspections should an incident take place on their premises.

Instead, the onus will be firmly on businesses and outside personnel working on site, such as contract cleaners, to make sure they operate a safe and secure working environment from day to day.

After all, if they are negligent in making sure their premises are a safe place in which to operate, they could also potentially face costly compensation claims from employees or members of the public who are injured.

The government plans to change the rules regarding civil damages, so only those employers who are "shown to have acted negligently" will be liable to pay up.

"This will end the current situation where businesses can automatically be liable for damages even if they were not actually negligent," it stated.

As a result, it is in a business's best interests to make sure its premises are properly cleaned by professionals, so it does not present unnecessary hazards and dangers to occupants.

Vince Cable, the business secretary, commented: "We're determined to put common sense back into areas like health and safety, which will reduce costs and fear of burdensome inspections."