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Rules changes ‘put workers at risk’

Rules changes ‘put workers at risk’

Changes to the application and enforcement of health and safety regulations over the past 10 years have increased the risk of injury for workers, according to a new report.

The number of business inspections by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has fallen by 69% while investigations into health and safety-related accidents has fallen by 68%, the report by the University of Liverpool and Liverpool John Moores University found.

Meanwhile the number of companies prosecuted for breaching health and safety regulations has fallen by 48%, the study found.

The report, Regulatory Surrender: death, injury and the non-enforcement of law, said the HSE's power to inspect and enforce health and safety rules had been reduced, putting more employees at risk of accident or injury in the workplace.

The Government recently announced a wide-ranging review of health and safety laws after claims that UK industry had been "saturated" by health and safety legislation under the Labour government.

Dr David Whyte, reader in sociology at the University of Liverpool, said: “The idea that health and safety has ‘gone mad’ does not seem to hold true. The collapse in inspection, investigation and enforcement has dramatically reduced the chances of businesses being detected and prosecuted for committing safety offences. Most serious injuries now are not even investigated.”

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