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April 27, 2012

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Ministers quizzed in run-up to Workers’ Memorial Day

As part of this year’s Worker’s Memorial Day – which falls on Saturday, 28 April – safety campaigners have sent ministers and MPs a quiz on health and safety at work so they can test their knowledge.

Workers’ Memorial Day – an annual event, which is marked all around the world – remembers the estimated 2 million men and women who die every year as a result of work-related accidents and diseases.

This year, the national Hazards Campaign is calling on the Government to stop “bashing” health and safety and reverse its policies on cutting regulations and reducing enforcement. A spokesperson for the group said: “We have sent [Employment minister] Chris Grayling, and all ministers and MPs, a Workers’ Memorial Day Quiz to see how much they really know about health and safety at work, as government policies to slash regulation and destroy enforcement seem to be based on the myths perpetuated by the tabloid press, rather than the facts.

“This Government of millionaires and wealthy people appears to have no idea about the real cost of bad working conditions, or who pays, which is mostly the individuals harmed and their families, then the State. We need good jobs, safe and healthy jobs, but this Government’s policies are making work less safe and much more unhealthy.”

Contrary to popular assertions that Britain has one of the best records on health and safety, risk-intelligence company Maplecroft ranks the nation as 20th in its Health and Safety Risk Index of 34 OECD industrialised countries. The TUC believes that the Government’s policies on regulations and enforcement could see Britain’s position in the Index fall even lower.

Said its general secretary Brendan Barber: “The Government says we don’t need any more regulation; that the UK is a safe place to work. If only this were the case – with the UK 20th in a list of 34 developed nations, we’ve hardly got a safety record to be proud of.
“Sensible employers who are happy to work closely with unions improving safety and occupational health at work don’t see safety regulation as an intrusive burden. But rogue employers, who are happy to cut corners and take risks with their employees’ safety, do.
“It’s these reckless employers that we need to target and the Government’s rhetoric will only encourage yet more of them to think they can get away with unsafe workplaces – without fear of ever getting a visit from the HSE, or their local council.”

Asked in the House of Commons earlier this week how the Government would be marking the Day, Parliamentary under-Secretary of State for Welfare Reform Lord Freud said: “It is right to commemorate those killed, injured, or made ill through work. The Day also highlights the importance of good health and safety in the workplace.

“The Government continue to recognise Workers’ Memorial Day and consider that families and friends of those affected, and organisations representing workers, are best placed to decide how the Day should be commemorated.”

TUC events are taking place up and down the country. To see what’s going on in your area, visit:

Ministers quizzed in run-up to Workers’ Memorial Day As part of this year's Worker's Memorial Day
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