The claim follows a speech to small business leaders yesterday in which Clegg suggested that those engaged in inspection fail to understand the need to support as well as regulate business, and called for further reform.
Prospect Deputy General Secretary Mike Clancy, said: “Our members feel the Deputy Prime Minister’s speech yesterday reinforced the need for a debate informed by facts rather than impression.
“Far from ‘hounding’ business, numerous reviews of HSE’s activities – from the Hampton report in 2005 up to Lord Young’s review, under the auspices of the Coalition, last year – have illustrated the high level of support and respect for HSE and its appreciation of commercial reality.
“Given the average lifespan of an SME is seven years, a small business is more likely to fail than receive a visit from an HSE inspector – more typically once in every 15 years.”
Clancy added that even this level of regulation looks set to drop after swingeing government cuts resulted in inspections, that aim to provide advice to avoid accidents, being axed by a third, while the extension of HSE’s cost recovery proposals has raised concerns within the small business community over its one-size-fits-all application.
“Rather than promise further reform, we would prefer the Deputy Prime Minister waits until the findings of the Government’s own review of HSE, currently being undertaken by Professor Lofstedt, is complete.
“Our HSE members would also like to extend an invitation to meet with Mr Clegg and discuss the reality of inspection, or suggest he accompanies an HSE inspector and discovers for himself how far removed their work is from the caricature of an organisation determined to undermine business and any return to prosperity.”