Stop the deregulation of health and safety, experts urge

The authors of the letter think deregulation of health and safety put those in the Grenfell tower at risk
James Gourley/REX/Shutterstock

More than 700 organisations have now signed an open letter to the Prime Minister calling for her to end the Government’s crackdown on red tape.

The letter, which was handed to Downing Street officials on 21 June, asks the Government to stop the deregulation of health and safety as part of its “one in, three out” approach to reducing the legislative burden on businesses.

It comes in response to the Grenfell Tower blaze earlier this month, which many claimed could have been prevented if the Government had not focused on reducing red tape, a strategy that involves dismantling a number of laws that cover health and safety.

Composed by global health and safety professionals, leading academics and some MPs, the letter says: “For many years, ministers and others with influence over them have called for regulations, including in health and safety, to be axed as a matter of principle.

“Arbitrary rules were imposed to establish deregulation of health and safety, such as a requirement to abolish two health and safety regulations (and more recently, three) for any new one adopted.”

It adds: “Good, well-evidenced and proportionate regulations in health and safety, based on full consultation, are developed and adopted because they save lives and protect people’s health and wellbeing. They are not “burdens on business” but provide essential protection for the public from identifiable risks.”

The letter’s authors include the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH); Park Health & Safety; the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA); and the British Safety Council.

Before it was sent, the total number of signatories reached 70. In just two days, this has now increased to over 700.

Lawrence Waterman of Park Health & Safety Partnership, who led health and safety for the London Olympic Delivery Authority, said: “In effect, Grenfell has raised doubts in the minds of the decent-minded over whether building safety regulations are stringent enough, whether the Government is setting the bar too low.

“And that’s why we, in the safety sector, want Theresa May and her Ministers to rethink their ‘one in, three out’ approach to deregulation that includes health and safety.

“We’re very willing indeed to sit down with the Government to help ensure it promotes smart safety regulations that protect people without being overly burdensome – but it’s time to scrap the red tape initiative.”

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