What the Budget means for health & safety

The Chancellor has promised that 84% per cent of health and safety regulation will be scrapped or improved, according to this year’s Budget.

Last year, in its response to the Löfstedt review, the Government said it is committed to reduce health and safety regulation by more than half. The latest figure announced in the Budget takes into account last year’s Red Tape Challenge, which asked the public and business for their suggestions on which laws could be amended, or revoked entirely.

A Treasury spokesperson confirmed that “167 of the 199 health and safety regulations considered as part of the Red Tape Challenge” will either be withdrawn or improved.

To help businesses make sense of this huge legislative streamlining exercise, the Budget commits the HSE to redesign information on its website this year to distinguish between regulations that impose specific duties on businesses and those that define ‘administrative requirements’.

RIDDOR

Among the significant legislative changes that had previously been announced by the Government, the Budget highlights amending RIDDOR, by extending to seven days, from three, the period an employee needs to have taken off work before an injury or incident needs to be reported – a change that is due to come into force next month.

FIRST AID

Also highlighted is an amendment to the Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981 to remove the requirement for the HSE to approve the training and qualifications of appointed first-aid personnel.

STRICT LIABILITY

The Budget reaffirms that changes in strict liability will be brought in this year, so that health and safety law will no longer hold employers to be in breach of their duties in civil law where they have done everything that is reasonably practicable and foreseeable to protect their employees.

In addition to this measure, the Budget announces that the HSE will provide more help for businesses by this summer on what is ‘reasonably practicable’ in respect of specific activities, where evidence demonstrates that businesses need further advice to comply with the law in a proportionate way.

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