Plans to strip the red tape from “Britain’s health and safety culture” would protect volunteer and charity workers from liability claims according to the Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling.
Mr Grayling, writing on the website ConservativeHome, said “all too often” the fear of being sued was deterring those who wanted to do the “right thing in our society”.
Removing the bureaucracy would result in a “common sense” approach to safety.
Mr Grayling explained: “Take the responsible employer, who puts in place proper training for staff, who has sensible safety procedures, and tries to do the right thing. And then someone injures themselves doing something stupid or something that no reasonable person would ever have expected to be a risk. Common sense says that the law should not simply penalise the employer for what has gone wrong.”
“Or the person who holds back from sweeping the snow off the pavement outside their house because they are afraid that someone will then slip on the ice and sue them.
“Of course, courts do apply common sense, and very often throw out the most absurd cases. But that’s not before the individuals involved have been through incredible stresses and strains when they think they have just done the right thing.”
Mr Grayling said the system needed to be “rooted in common sense” but still punish those who flagrantly flounce safety laws.
“Those who are negligent, or who act in a way that is foolish or reckless should be able to be punished by the law. But those who are trying to do the right thing should believe that the law will be on their side.”
The Ministry of Justice says the reforms, which could come into force as early as next year, would allow judges to take into consideration additional factors when deciding negligence cases.
Changes to the rules on health and safety would apply in England and Wales.
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