David Cameron
The prime minister aims to help British businesses by cutting health and safety regulations

Prime Minister David Cameron said that his New Year's resolution was to "kill off the health and safety culture for good" claiming it had become an "albatross around the neck of British businesses"

He announced plans to cap the amount which can be earned by lawyers from small-value personal injury claims against employers and to reduce overall costs in cases funded by "no-win no-fee" deals.

And he revealed he has asked the Health and Safety Executive to bring forward to the end of 2012 its timetable for abolishing or consolidating up to half of all existing regulations.

Speaking to an audience of small businesses in Maidenhead, Berkshire, the PM warned that 2012 was going to be a "difficult year" but insisted the government would not simply "stand back".

"It's a year when the government's going to roll up its sleeves and ask, 'what can we do to help business, to help consumers, to help our economy get moving and to help our economy provide jobs for young people?'," he said.

The Government is "waging war against the excessive health and safety culture that has become an albatross around the neck of British businesses", said the PM.

He added: "This Coalition has a clear new year's resolution: to kill off the health and safety culture for good.

"I want 2012 to go down in history not just as Olympics year or Diamond Jubilee year, but the year we get a lot of this pointless time-wasting out of the British economy and British life once and for all."

Moves to tackle the compensation culture form part of a general assault on red tape following the 2010 Young Report and last year's Lofstedt Report into how to minimise the burden of regulation.

"I don't think there's any one single way you can cut back the health and safety monster," said Mr Cameron.

"You've got to look at the quantity of rules - and we're cutting them back; you've got to look at the way they're enforced - and we are making sure that is more reasonable; we're taking self-employed people out of whole classes of health and safety regulation.

"But the key about health and safety is not just the rules, the laws and regulations - it's also the culture of fear many businesses have about health and safety."

But his comments were branded "appalling and unhelpful" by Richard Jones, head of policy and public affairs at the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health.

"Labelling workplace health and safety as a monster is appalling and unhelpful, as the reason our legislative system exists is to prevent death, injury or illness at work, protecting livelihoods in the process," said Mr Jones.