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Cutting the red tape for small firms

14 August 2008

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents has welcomed the report by the Better Regulation Executive examining how health and safety regulation affects low-risk and small businesses. The Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) believes small businesses in the UK could save up to £300million a year with better advice and support on health and safety.

Roger Bibbings is RoSPA's Occupational Safety Adviser
Roger Bibbings is RoSPA's Occupational Safety Adviser

Roger Bibbings, RoSPA Occupational Safety Adviser, said: “This report is the first serious examination of how a wide range of third-party influences impact on the way employers manage health and safety. “It highlights the need to cut unnecessary form filling and to combat myths which give health and safety a bad name, while concentrating on practical management to ensure healthy and safe working,” he added.

The report backs the work of RoSPA’s National Occupational Health and Safety Committee about pre-qualification schemes, which assess health and safety standards in firms when tendering for work with clients. The assessments look for evidence of contractors’ basic health and safety credentials, but firms often have to keep resubmitting similar evidence because there are so many different schemes. RoSPA is currently calling for a more common approach and mutual recognition between schemes, which would cut down on bureaucracy and costs.

“We are delighted to see support for our recommendations,” Bibbings said. “And the document also quite rightly identifies ways in which media coverage of health and safety trivialises the subject and causes many businesses to have a negative view of the whole topic.

“RoSPA would have liked to have seen greater emphasis given to the importance of work-related road safety, because accidents involving people on the road for occupational purposes kill and injure far more people than all other areas of work.

“More discussion of serious, long-term threats such as asbestos-linked disease and occupational cancer would also have been welcome.

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