The government is promising to check the "growth of compensation culture" by reviewing health and safety laws.
The man leading the study, Lord Young, said he wants advertisements for personal injury claims firms to be banned.
Lord Young, who served as a cabinet minister under Margaret Thatcher, said many rules were "absolute nonsense".
But unions have warned against attacks on rules that protect staff and lawyers say "compensation culture" is a "myth".
Lord Young, whose review is expected to report back over the summer, said that health and safety was very important but had been made a "joke" because it had been extended into areas that "frankly are not dangerous".
Restaurants had banned toothpicks on safety grounds and contestants in a pancake race had been told to walk, not run, because of rain, he added.
He continued, a "compensation culture" had been allowed to grow up over the past 10-12 years, which he suggested the previous Labour government had allowed in an effort to "save the legal aid budget".
He highlighted referral agencies - which advertise for people who have recently been injured and ask them to contact them, without a fee - and said they had helped increase "the number of people being sued".
"What actually happens is they investigate your claim, decide you have a good one, they then auction it to the lawyer who will pay the most for it," he said.
"So you don't get the best lawyer, you get the person who pays the most, therefore probably scrimps the most to win."
Speaking last December, Prime Minister David Cameron said the UK had become "saturated" by health and safety laws.
In recent years children had been told to wear goggles to play conkers and trainee hairdressers had been banned from using scissors, he added.
Here at Greengates Builders Merchants Accrington, Lancashire we look forward to hearing more on this topic.