Department for Business and Enterprise will assess how health and safety system can be revamped for smaller businesses

The chancellor Alistair Darling has launched a major review of business health and safety laws.

Alistair Darling

The review, conducted by the Department for Business and Enterprise, will look at how the health and safety system can be revamped, especially for small and low risk businesses.

It said many small employers have limited resources, find it difficult to work out what broad health and safety duties mean for their workplace, and are unsure of when to take advice and where to find it.

Pat McFadden, better regulation minister, said: "I am fully aware of some of the considerable challenges that small firms face in protecting their workers from injuries and ill-health.

"The government must work smarter to make it easier for employers to follow the rules, as this will benefit everyone and contribute to making our society safer."

The review will also examine how to improve public confidence in the health and safety system.

The Health and Safety Executive is also publishing its 2007 simplification plan today and has already reduced the number of forms by 50%.