DAVID Cameron will today rail against "ridiculous" health and safety rules holding back the economic recovery.

In a speech to leaders of small businesses, the Prime Minister will warn that overzealous regulations are preventing firms from hiring more staff.

Figures to be released this week are expected to confirm the UK economy grew sharply over the last three months of last year.

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However, ministers insist for that growth to be sustained small and medium sized companies across the UK have to be able to expand.

In his speech in London to the Federation Of Small Businesses, Mr Cameron will say the Government will the first in modern history to reduce the overall burden of regulation on business - saving firms more than £850 million year.

He will also announce plans to make it make it easier and cheaper for firms to meet their environmental obligations, by scrapping about 80,000 pages of environmental guidance.

But the Federation will call on Government to do more to help them, by reforming business rates and improving access to finance.

Policy chairman Mike Cherry said supporting small firms should not be a "nice to have" afterthought to policymaking.

Critics have also questioned the impact of the Government's deregulation reforms, amid warnings they have come at a high cost for workers' rights.

Ministers say 800 regulations have been abolished or simplified since the 2010 election. But they have also faced calls from small businesses to go further and faster.

A Government initiative last year produced a "wishlist" of demands for the European Union.

Progress on that issue has been slow, although Mr Cameron will today promise to continue to press European leaders.

He will tell small business leaders that he wants to let them "get on with what you do best - enterprising, innovating and - most importantly - creating jobs that give this country the long-term security we need."

Mr Cameron will also point to examples of what he will describe as "ridiculous" health and safety laws.

He will describe as "crazy" the fact that employees used to be able to sue their employer "if they were insulted by a customer", something he will boast that the Government has now changed.

He will also point out ministers are abolishing a rule that said shopkeepers had to have a poison licence to sell oven cleaner.

The Prime Minister will also rail against "needless health and safety inspections" and "over-zealous rules that dictate how to use a ladder at work or what no-smoking signs must look like".

He will also point out the new Deregulation Bill will exempt one million self-employed people, including tens of thousands of workers in Scotland, from health and safety laws altogether.

In his speech, he is expected to say: "Supporting business is a crucial part of our long term economic plan, creating jobs and security for all. That is why, among so many other things, I have insisted on slashing needless regulation.

"This will make it easier for you to grow, to create jobs and to help give this country the long-term security we are working towards."

He will add: "I know many of you want to grow further - or may be thinking of employing your first person - but have been put off or held back by red tape.

"So we have trawled through thousands of pieces of regulation - from the serious to the ridiculous, and we will be scrapping or amending over 3000 regulations - saving business well over £850m every single year. That's half a million pounds that will be saved for businesses every single day of the year."