The government plans to make changes to health and safety regulations in an effort to cut down on bureaucracy levels "tying up" the vast majority of Britain's businesses, it has been announced.
Business leaders have welcomed the reforms, which will see a refocusing of priorities on to employers and consultants with a track record of flouting rules and locations that are known to be high risk such as major energy sites.
But union chiefs have criticised the plans, claiming they will put the health and safety of workers in danger while also damaging the economy.
Fewer health and safety inspections will be carried out under the changes, meaning that, in theory, responsible employers will no longer be restrained by red tape.
Ministers said they also wanted to eliminate "cowboy" health and safety consultants who were unqualified but were deemed to be responsible for many of Britain's most "inappropriate" health and safety recommendations.
A new register of qualified consultants will be made available to businesses, and those who are untrained or give false advice will be excluded from the approved list.
The review of existing regulations will be chaired by Professor Ragnar E Lofstedt, of King's College London, and will publish its findings in the autumn.
British Chambers of Commerce director general David Frost said: "Simplifying and codifying health and safety laws will help employers spend less time on tick box exercises, and more time focusing on growing their businesses."
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