Plans to Dilute Industrial Safety Laws Abandoned

Article excerpt

GOVERNMENT plans for sweeping "deregulation" of health and safety laws at work have been abandoned.

A White Paper on competitiveness, to be published on Tuesday, will show that ministers have given up most of their proposals to water down existing safety legislation.

Instead, the document will reveal the Government's intention to "tidy up" the law so that about 100 regulations referring to long extinct industries and processes are repealed.

The drive by Michael Forsyth, the Thatcherite employment minister, to remove what he regarded as "red tape" has been thwarted by a combination of European legislation and a stout defence of the existing system by the Health and Safety Commission.

The Health and Safety Executive, which operates on behalf of the commission, would have faced a considerable reduction in its role.

Objections to health and safety laws from some employers and safety consultants, on the grounds that they restrained business competitiveness, were seen to have little foundation. Many large companies saw no reason for major surgery to an existing statute which contains 400 sets of regulations.

One informed source said there had been a "lot of bluff and bluster" by ministers about deregulation of health and safety, but changes to the law suggested by the commission in a review were minimal and that had been accepted by the Government. …