A Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) announcement that 84 percent of health and safety rules will have been scrapped or ‘improved’ during this parliament has been condemned by the Trades Union Congress (TUC).

Arguing that it will ‘boost business’, free employers from ‘unnecessary red tape’ and make it easier for businesses to understand regulatory obligations, the government has taken a ‘one in, two out’ approach to health and safety regulations, a move which the TUC says has proven to have a detrimental effect on the safety of workers.

TUC general secretary, Frances O’Grady has commented that some of the changes could cause confusion among employers and that the government has failed to take into account changed employment practices and the impact they have had on workers' safety needs such as back pain and stress.

Head of policy at Thompsons Solicitors, Tom Jones said: “The government has spent a great deal of time and effort dressing up a box ticking exercise as a war on ‘red tape’ when in fact most of it is what governments do - tidy up old and obscure regulations. Sadly with their overly simplistic and frankly puerile ‘one in, two out’ approach they have removed some very real protections needed by working people who face very real dangers every day simply by carrying out their job.

“Notably under the coalition government, the total number of work-related illness cases has increased by 89,000 to around 1.2 million in the space of just four years.

“This week’s push to exempt self-employed workers from health and safety regulations in the Enterprise Act sees the government flying once more in the face of overwhelming opposition from across business and from specialists in the field (including the Professor they seek to pray in aid of the reforms) and typifies their nonsensical ideological approach”