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December 11, 2019

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Health and safety legislation

General election: ‘We want to see a cross-party consensus on health and safety standards,’ says British Safety Council Chief Executive

With the upcoming general election, on 12 December 2019, the British Safety Council wants to ensure that the main political parties consider making policy commitments on occupational health, safety and wellbeing.

Mike Robinson,

Mike Robinson

Chief Executive of the British Safety Council, Mike Robinson, has asked the parties to adopt a list of pledges for the next government, which includes protecting workers from air pollution, sick pay and resourcing the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

“Over the coming years we will be campaigning on the occupational health risks of air pollution, the growing incidence of presenteeism in the workplace and tackling mental health at work. Underpinning that, of course, is a regulatory regime that is up-to-date and well-resourced,” said Mr Robinson.

Full list of the pledges

The British Safety Council has asked the next government to adopt the following pledges:

  1. To maintain the highest standards of health, safety and wellbeing regulations and employee rights, to ensure that the UK continues to be a world leader in health, safety and wellbeing regulations and enforcement.
  2. To improve air quality across the UK including by: adopting a legally binding commitment to meet, as a minimum standard, WHO guideline levels for particulate matter (PM) pollution by 2030; working with the HSE to recognise air pollution as an occupational health hazard and investing in pollution monitoring so that ambient air pollution can be measured in all regions of the UK as accurately as it is in London.
  3. To protect and enhance workers’ rights by enshrining in law the right of employees to request workplace modifications on health and other grounds. This will increase the likelihood that employees can stay in work and reduce the incidence of people leaving jobs because of ill-health or other reasons. They will review their target of one million disabled people in employment by 2027, with a view to making it more ambitious.
  4. To abolish the minimum earning threshold on sick pay.
  5. To amend the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974) and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (1999) and include explicit duties of employers to safeguard the mental health of their workers and reduce the risk of exposure to work-related stress.
  6. To commit to resourcing the HSE, local authorities and other regulatory bodies with adequate funding to ensure they proactively promote health, safety and wellbeing in the workplace and ensure compliance as a minimum standard.

“We want to see a cross-party consensus on health and safety standards, and I am hopeful that all the main parties will want to reassure voters that they are committed to maintaining high standards of workers’ rights and protections. We have set out some detailed policy requests and we will be holding the next government to account, whatever the outcome of the election.

“Clearly Brexit is a major issue in this election, and we are working with colleagues in the sector to ensure that those who champion health and safety can speak with one voice as the next phase of Brexit unfolds. But this is also a general election that will decide the shape of domestic policy for perhaps the next five years. We want to see the next government building on the UK’s reputation as a leader in health and safety by creating a regulatory framework that ensures no-one is injured or made ill through their work,” Mike concluded.

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