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‘Thousands of businesses’ to benefit from health and safety overhaul

Many thousands of businesses are set to benefit from a radical overhaul of health and safety regulations with effect from April 2013, the Government has announced.

Under the plans, shops, offices, pubs and clubs will be exempted from routine health and safety inspections, which will apply only to those businesses in high risk sectors such as construction or food production, those which experience an incident, or those with a poor health and safety record.

New legislation will also be introduced next month to protect businesses against so-called ‘compensation culture’ claims, where businesses can automatically be held liable for civil damages, even when they have not acted negligently.

Finally, the Government aims to further reduce the red tape burden, by abolishing or reducing at least 3,000 existing regulations through the Red Tape Challenge process.

Business groups have welcomed the announcement. Alexander Ehmann of the Institute of Directors commented, ‘Today’s announcements are good news if they are the beginning, not the end of the deregulation story. Excessive regulation costs time and money, both of which businesses would rather spend on developing new products, hiring staff and building up British business both here and abroad’.

However, some trade unions have expressed concern that the changes will compromise safety and could have ‘lethal consequences’ for workers and the public.