Addressing an audience of small businesses in Maidenhead recently, prime minister David Cameron labelled the UK’s health and safety legislation as a “monster” and an “albatross around the neck of British businesses.”

In response to this, Richard Jones, head of policy and public affairs at the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), has hit back. He said, “Labelling workplace health and safety as a monster is appalling and unhelpful, as the reason our legislative system exists is to prevent death, injury or illness at work. The problem identified by the government’s own reviews is not the law, but rather exaggerated fear of being sued, fed by aggressive marketing.

“Though we’re about to see lots of streamlining and merging of regulations, which we welcome, it’s important people understand that the essential duties will remain. It’s also vital that the review process isn’t unduly rushed, which could lead to mistakes and lowered standards – we’re concerned the timeline seems to be getting shorter and shorter. And we’d reiterate that only simplification of the laws is necessary. It’s difficult to see how the government will reduce the number by half without increasing the risk of injury and ill health not just to workers, but the general public.”