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September 25, 2014

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Union concern over HSE plans to shut down committees

Unite, the UK’s largest union, is calling on the HSE’s board to halt plans to close vital health and safety committees.

According to Unite, HSE is considering closing down a number of its committees that provide advice from a range of people, including unions and employers. The current system will be replaced by experts such as academics.

Two of these committees deal with toxic substances and have been instrumental in developing the HSE’s policy on a range of hazards, including asbestos. One committee, WATCH (Working Group on Action to Control Chemicals) has already been disbanded, while its parent body, the Advisory Committee on Toxic Substances, also appears to be under threat in its current form.

Unite argues that unions and employers need to be on these bodies because they act as brokers for the experience of their members in the workplace.

Len McCluskey Unite general secretary said:

“It seems the HSE is trying to eliminate trade unions from giving advice on workplace ill health. According to HSE, involving the workforce is a key component of good health and safety – maybe they only say that when it suits them.

“I call on the HSE to halt these plans and ensure trade unions are included in all talks concerning the health and safety of workers.”

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