Health and safety made simple in new plan for business

The Health and Safety Commission (HSC) and Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have published a simplification plan to help businesses comply with regulations and improve workplace health and safety.

The plan outlines initiatives to reduce the paperwork associated with complying with health and safety laws while maintaining or improving safety standards.

Better regulation across public and private sectors is a priority for the government. In the 2005 Budget, it published two reports that set all departments and regulators big challenges to reduce administrative burdens while at the same time improving effectiveness.

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, minister for health and safety, said: “The plan outlines its commitment to delivering real and significant reductions in the costs to business of compliance with legislation. It aims to maintain or improve health and safety outcomes, while reducing costs of unnecessary paperwork to duty holders.”

Key initiatives in the first year of the plan focus on elements that affect the largest number of employers. These include:

Sensible risk management – simplifying HSE guidance to encourage a proportionate approach to risk assessment and management

A gas safety review – a review of the current regulatory regime, to improve and modernise the system on a risk and evidence basis

Forms-projects to reduce the number and burden of HSE forms by stripping out all out-of-date forms and providing electronic versions of all those remaining.

The HSC and HSE have consulted widely with businesses, trade bodies and unions in developing the plan. They continue to encourage feedback on the plan and any ideas for new simplification initiatives that might be included.

Janet Asherson, head of health and safety at the CBI, welcomed the plan.

“The CBI supports the removal of unnecessary administrative and bureaucratic burdens on business and welcomes the HSE’s contribution to the government’s better regulation initiative,” she said.

Hugh Robertson, senior health and safety officer at the TUC, said: “The TUC has always supported strong effective regulation. However, if regulation can be simplified without reducing the level of protection it affords, that is in the interests of employees, employers and regulators.”

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