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Image of a High StreetFreeing small and medium enterprises (SMEs) from the stranglehold of health and safety red tape and tackling the compensation culture are part of a series of measures announced to back enterprise by Prime Minister David Cameron today (5 Jan 2012).

As a leading Health and Safety training and consultancy business Acorn is keen highlight that not all health and safety is ‘bad’, but supports the move to rein in the excesses that have a negative impact on business.

Reining in excessive Health and Safety practices

Speaking to an audience of small businesses and entrepreneurs in Maidenhead, David Cameron announced that:

  • to tackle the compensation culture and address the fear from businesses of being sued for trivial or excessive claims – we will extend the current scheme that caps the amount that lawyers can earn from small value personal injury claims, and reduce overall costs in cases funded by ‘no win no fee’ deals. This will help bring down the cost of many cases and deter the speculative health and safety claims made against good businesses that would appear not to have done anything wrong.
  • the health and safety law on strict liability for civil claims will be changed so that businesses are no longer automatically at fault if something goes wrong.
  • we will investigate the demands made by insurance companies on businesses to ensure that levels of compliance do not force businesses to go far beyond what is actually required by the the law to secure their insurance cover.

Waging war on the compensation culture

David Cameron went on to say:

“I am determined that we do everything possible to take the brakes off business: cutting taxes; slashing red tape; putting billions into big infrastructure projects; making it much easier for British firms to get out there and trade with the world.

“And there is something else we are doing: waging war against the excessive health and safety culture that has become an albatross around the neck of British businesses.

“Talk of ‘health and safety’ can too often sound farcical or marginal. But for British businesses – especially the smaller ones that are so vital to the future of our economy – this is a massively important issue. Every day they battle against a tide of risk assessment forms and face the fear of being sued for massive sums. The financial cost of this culture runs into the billions each year.

“So this coalition has a clear New Year’s resolution: to kill off the health and safety culture for good. I want 2012 to go down in history not just as Olympics year or Diamond Jubilee year, but the year we get a lot of this pointless time-wasting out of the British economy and British life once and for all.”

NB. Bold emphasis added by Acorn

Further information at

Acorn – putting Health and Safety into perspective

Danny Street, Director of Acorn Safety responded by saying:

“It is really encouraging that David Cameron is going to tackle the excessive side of Health and Safety. Risk assessment documentation, risk averse insurance companies, and the fear of being sued are real issues that cost time and money and sap the motivation from people starting and growing businesses.

The compensation culture and thinking that has developed where: ‘If I have an accident who can I claim from’ needs to be addressed and reined back, and these announcements should help in this area.

Providing a safe working environment for staff  and not putting customers, visitors or the general public in danger is an ongoing responsibility for people running businesses and indeed any organisation or facility manager.

Whether you run a shop or restaurant, garage or garden centre, office or factory, whether you build, repair, enhance or manage homes or buildings, whether you care for the young, the old or those who are unwell, there are health and safety compliance and best practice aspects that you and your business are responsible for.

Appropriate procedures need to be set out to identify and reduce risks, staff need to be trained so they understand, follow and apply safe working practices and have skills appropriate for their roles and responsibilities.

Let’s not label all Health and Safety as inherently ‘bad’, let’s just get it into its rightful perspective, Danny concluded.


For further tips, advice and training courses on Health and Safety

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