Health And Safety 'Is Not A Threat To Businesses'

IOSH Raises Concerns Over Government Report


Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397

The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has criticised a new report commissioned by the government on EU workplace regulations.
Entitled 'Cut EU Red Tape', the study identifies areas in which European legislation may be holding back small businesses.

One part of the report focused specifically on workplace health and safety rules and recommends that firms operating in "low-risk" environments are made exempt from some laws.

The report stated that by relaxing certain regulations relating to risk assessments, companies across Europe could save as much as £2.7 billion.
While David Cameron suggested that "sweeping away burdensome rules" is important, IOSH head of policy and public affairs Richard Jones warned that it is wrong to label health and safety as a threat to small companies.

He said it is important to remember that health and safety failures cost the UK £13.4 billion each year and this figure is doubled when the cost of occupational cancers and property damage is taken into account.

"In this latest report, we're concerned that once again health and safety is misunderstood and wrongly labelled as a hindrance to business - whereas research shows that positive feelings about work are linked with higher productivity, profitability and worker and customer loyalty," Mr Jones remarked.

He added that small firms need more support from the government, especially when it comes to completing and filing risk assessments.

Mr Jones also pointed to the fact that some bodies that represent small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have already opposed "general exemption" from health and safety laws, most notably the European Association of Craft SMEs.

Earlier this month, UK business secretary Vince Cable admitted that health and safety might have an image problem. This is despite the fact Britain has one of the best occupational health and safety records in Europe.

He said it is "caricatured as bureaucracy and red tape", although organisations like IOSH are doing their best to raise awareness of the importance of workplace safety laws.