Trade Unions yesterday reacted with anger after the Government announced plans to exempt businesses from having health and safety inspections as part of a reduction in the burden of employment legislation, reports The Independent.
At present businesses in a wide variety of sectors are obliged to have health and safety inspections through the Health and Safety Executive or their local authority.
The Government has announced that from April 2013 it intends to remove legislation, effectively exempting hundreds of thousands of businesses from the need to have these inspections.
It is thought that retail shops, offices, pubs and clubs could all benefit from the proposals.
However, the move to deregulate businesses has caused considerable anger amongst unions which fear that the Government is putting employees and customers at risk.
Brendan Barber is the TUC general secretary. He warned that the proposals risked fuelling an 'occupational health epidemic' in the UK.
Mr Barber cited the 1.9million Britons currently living with work-related illnesses and the 20,000 or more deaths linked to workplace accidents each year as evidence that workplaces need health and safety regulation.
"Health and safety regulation is not a burden on business, it is a basic protection for workers. Cutting back on regulation and inspections will lead to more injuries and deaths as result of poor safety at work," he said.
The proposals will be announced today by Business Secretary Vince Cable, as part of a package of measures to help British businesses. Speaking ahead of the announcement Mr Cable said that measures were needed to boost growth.
"In these tough times, businesses need to focus all their energies on creating jobs and growth, not being tied up in unnecessary red tape," he said.
"I've listened to those concerns and we're determined to put common sense back into areas like health and safety, which will reduce costs and fear of burdensome inspections," he added.