Birmingham Chamber of Commerce has hit out at Government plans to charge businesses which breach health and safety legislation.
Firms will be charged £124 an hour for serving enforcement notices and advice if they fail to comply with the “huge volume of intricate and complex health and safety legislation”, the chamber said.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) will be financially incentivised to identify problems and breaches for the first time, it claims.
Steve Brittan, vice president of Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, has written to Government ministers in protest at the plans, claiming that the move could introduce a “profit motive” into the work of the HSE.
He says: “This could incentivise the HSE to find fault. It could also put workers at risk by discouraging businesses to approach the HSE for advice for fear of incurring massive costs.
“The proposal, which could see the average cost for an inspection resulting in a letter costing up to £750, will put needless and counterproductive costs on businesses that are rightly focused on doing business and creating jobs at this critical juncture.
“At a cost of £124 per hour a business could pay the hourly wage of 47 apprentices, this will damage businesses, growth and job creation. “The Government needs to do all it can to support jobs and growth by enabling businesses.
“The HSE should work with businesses to ensure that the safety of their staff and customers is paramount while Government should ensure removal of all but essential health and safety legislations and enforce them where appropriate.”