Businesses that are classified as ‘low risk’ will become exempt from health and safety inspections from April 2013 under new proposals introduced by the UK Government. The new rules would target sectors such as shops, offices, pubs and clubs, and would remove the requirement for routine inspections unless that particular business is known to have a poor safety record. High risk sectors, such as construction and food production, will continue to be inspected.

It is hoped that this type of deregulation will result in significant cost-savings and will support economic growth. Business Secretary Vince Cable said, "We’re determined to put common sense back into areas like health and safety, which will reduce costs and fear of burdensome inspections."

Business leaders have largely welcomed the plans if they can prove to have the impact intended. Alex Jackman, Senior Policy Adviser at the Forum of Private Business said, "If it brings about a true risk-based culture to workplace health and safety law, and removes the less common sense elements that currently face business owners every day, then it is very welcome indeed.”

However Trade Union leaders have been less supportive of the development, viewing the proposals as an ‘all out attack’ on health and safety. Bob Crow, leader of the Rail Maritime and Transport (RMT) union, has said that unions will be committed to resisting this development.

On the same day that the announcement was made by the Government, further proposals were made for changes to employers’ liability for civil claims.

The proposals are part of a wider effort to reduce the regulatory ‘red tape’ burden upon businesses. Over 3000 regulations are currently targeted for abolition or reduction as part of the Red Tape Challenge process, with details of these to be identified by December 2013. For more information, please click here.