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Update from the Löfstedt Report

A worker’s own responsibility is to be emphasised under new workplace safety laws which are to be welcomed by ministers.

The review by Professor Ragnar Löfstedt for the King’s College London is also expected to decrease the number of health and safety laws significantly, Whitehall sources have revealed.

Ministers intend to aid the ailing economy by decreasing the financial burden put on companies by stringent health and safety laws.

The estimated cost of compensation payouts and accidents is said to be roughly £8 billion a year, according to the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health.

Redressing the balance is supported by British business groups who say that employees exploit the law in order to sue employers even if the accident was their own fault. Ministers also believe that these laws are used too frequently in order to back legal claims.

The Justice Secretary, Kenneth Clarke, commented on the situation by saying that health and safety breaches were often over-exaggerated and misinterpreted by many public bodies.

Safety charities have met the changes with a very mixed reaction, though.

The British Safety Council told the review that employers were being unfairly blamed for events which were the fault of the worker because a minority were taking advantage of austere health and safety regulations.

These views were echoed by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents who added that although investigations couldn’t prove workers were injuring themselves on purpose, some workers do act with disregard to health and safety regulations. They did not agree however, with changing the current system as they believed that it was flexible enough to cope with the demands presented by businesses and their employees.

The review is also supposed to call for the merger of many of the current health and safety regulations in order to reduce the complexity of the system which currently contains lots of duplicate rules.

At the moment the system has different rules for different size companies in different industries, and it’s said that there could be up to 200 different sets of rules, which even supporters of the current system acknowledge as a problem.

Minister Chris Grayling, the man who commissioned the review, says that these new rules should tip the balance towards employers once again.

Mr. Grayling said to the Daily Telegraph that he wanted a system which doesn’t always show the employer to be at fault no matter what, he advocated greater individual responsibility for all.