The response from employers and health specialists to the Löfstedt review was predominantly positive but cautious.
Judith Hackitt, chair of the Health and Safety Executive, said that the “insightful” report would “go a long way to refocusing health and safety in Great Britain on those things that matter – supporting those who want to do the right thing and reducing rates of work-related death, injury and ill health”.
Simplifying and streamlining health and safety Regulations, focusing enforcement on higher-risk businesses, clarifying requirements and rebalancing the civil litigation system were all practical, positive steps, she added.
Andrew Griffiths, principal policy officer at the Chartered Institute for Environmental Health, said: “We accept the report’s recommendations to streamline regulation in order to avoid duplication, while maintaining a robust regulatory framework that does not act as a burden on business.
“Health and safety enforcement should be proportionate and carried out by competent professional regulators,” he added.
The Institution for Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) was worried about the speed and scale of the Government’s proposed rationalisation of health and safety Regulations, as well as the plan to exempt some self-employed workers from their statutory duties.
IOSH chief executive Rob Strange said: “This approach seems to contradict the development of a more risk-aware society, which the report is also keen to promote.”
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents said that the challenge now was to embed “a proportionate approach to accident and ill-health prevention” across the entire health and safety system.
The TUC welcomed the conclusion that the UK’s health and safety laws “are broadly right” but expressed concern that the proposals to exempt some self-employed workers could have a “devastating” impact on their safety.
Brendan Barber, TUC general secretary, added: “While we welcome comments in the report on the need to address the major occupational health problems in the UK and to support union safety representatives, it is regrettable that no recommendations have been made on how to go about doing this.”