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September 7, 2010

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TUC: Government should promote not pillory health and safety

In what could be seen as a swipe at Lord Young, the TUC has called on the Government to appoint a health and safety tsar dedicated to championing the cause.

Ahead of the Tory peer’s forthcoming review of health and safety, expected later this month, the TUC has gone on the attack with a new report, which disputes suggestions that UK workplaces are now safer than they have ever been. It argues that modern workplaces are different to those of the past but still pose dangerous risks to employees.

According to the TUC, at least 20,000 people die prematurely as a result of their work every year, through health conditions, such as occupational cancers and lung disorders, exposure to chemicals, and traffic accidents. It also estimates that 1.2 million working people in the UK believe they are suffering from a work-related illness, such as heart disease, stress, musculoskeletal disorders, and mental-health issues.

Against such statistics, the union body laments the derision and trivialisation of health and safety by the media and politicians, and urges the Government not only to ignore calls from the business lobby to reduce regulation and enforcement but to appoint a champion for health and safety.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “Despite the way that health and safety is often pilloried, for those who are made ill or injured at work, and for the relatives of those who have died as a result of their work, health and safety is no joke.€ᄄ €ᄄ“Regulation works, as long as it is enforced, and it saves lives and prevents the contraction of unnecessary illnesses. That is why the UK continues to need strong regulation and enforcement. Every one of the 20,000 annual workplace-related deaths could have been prevented, and if the level of HSE and local-authority funding is cut, the effects will be even more catastrophic.”

The report adds that any fall in inspections and enforcement would also block the HSE’s efforts to tackle occupational disease and “condemn another generation to an epidemic of illness and misery caused by the effects of work”.

Reiterating its belief that the HSE and local authorities should be given more resources to enforce health and safety regulations, the TUC also demands that the Government:
• ensures that public-sector work is only won by companies prepared to build the cost of protection of the workforce into the contract;
• introduces a legal duty on directors to ensure the health and safety of their workers; and
• extends the union health and safety representative system into workplaces that aren’t currently covered.

The report, The Case for Health and Safety, can be downloaded at www.tuc.org.uk/extras/the_case_for_health_and_safety.pdf

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Barry
Barry
13 years ago

The problem is not regulations, it is attitude. Many employers are too keen to ensure all the documentation, risk assessments, policies etc in place just to cover their backside to prevent prosecution or litigation, but don’t do enough to put controls into practice to prevent injury, and do nothing to enforce safety rules, whilst allowing at risk behaviour to continue. Employees (& unions) also do not accept responsibility for their own safety, but place all the onus and blame onto the employer

Chadsmascout
Chadsmascout
13 years ago

When I first heard about Lord Youngs review of Health & Safety I could see both good and bad outcomes, but now after a few weeks of realising Camerons will to cut anything worthwhile, I am just seeing another means to an end for getting rid of more vital services. As in so many cases before a lot of management will just do the bare minimum to comply with whatever report comes out

I’m sure I’m not alone when you secretly wish it did happen to these people who say it will never happen to me

George
George
13 years ago

I do wish they would stop using the title Tsar.

Jim
Jim
13 years ago

Excellent, it is about time that someone stood up for H&S rather than demeaning it. I would like the Lord Youngs and their like to go and work in a furnace ares or machine shop for a week, then come back ant tell us workplaces are now much safer.

The only reason work places will be safer is if H&S legislation and enforcement is cascaded through industry.

Like most of these cretins they need to live in the environment that most British workers live in, instead of a safe protected zone.

Julie
Julie
13 years ago

Agree that possibly just a way to be able to get rid of people, consequences for all of us in H&S if businesses are given the impression that they don’t need to worry about it because the government have said it’s not important! It’s already hard enough to convince people at the top that it’s vital to consider H&S in all their business decisions.

Kirk
Kirk
13 years ago

As usual it’s the two extremes that shout the loudest. Yes there have been some ridiculous rules implemented in the name of H&S, usually by idiots who know nothing about it, and are trying to avoid the blame. But there are still businesses out there who don’t care about H&S because all they see is their profit margin, until they kill someone and end up in court. What we need is the other two words that keep getting forgotten, COMMON SENSE!!

Mschilling
Mschilling
13 years ago

The title Tsar sounds like throw back to the old days of Tsars who ran dictatorships in the years before communism.

Training
Training
13 years ago

Health and safety is still not a priority for many businesses. Risk assessments are a vital part of protecting any workforce,yet the figures don’t indicate businesses take the same view. Our research found that many businesses do not conduct assessments regularly and, more worryingly, some have never carried one out.

Until risk assessments are taken more seriously and we have a nation that it is first aid proficient, unfortunately lives will be lost needlessly.