Workers lives will only get more dangerous
While the coalition and the Prime Minister are set on cutting health & safety regulation that protect workers and talk of a ‘health & safety monster’ and it being a ‘burden to businesses’. What should we think on the subject?
Worldwide, work kills more than war each year. While here in the UK, even before the cuts to health & safety take a real hold, the estimated figure is that 1,300 died last year in work related incidents. Which includes those working on the roads, at sea and in the air, work-related suicides and members of the public killed by work activity, plus another 20,000 – 50,000 died from work related diseases.
Yet the government has seen fit to cut the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) budget by 35% over the next three years. Withdraw the HSE info line and after a recent government report classed certain industries as ‘Low-risk’, which will exclude them from proactive inspections. These proactive workplace inspections are known to help reduce the number of workers getting killed, injured or maimed due to work. Approximately 11,000 inspections will no longer take place, in these so called ‘Low-risk’ industries. Industries like, light engineering to dock workers, printers to office workers, and the list goes on. Five workers were killed in the ‘Low-risk’ docks in as many months last year. *1 Such industries are not ‘Low-risk’.
Workplace health & safety is the right of all workers, not a privilege, and the government of the day should seek to properly protect workers. The latest government review by Professor Ragnar Lofstedt on health & safety called ‘What the evidence says’ concluded: ‘My overall conclusion is that there is no evidence for radically altering current health and safety legislation.’ ‘and that the regulatory regime offers vital protection to employees and the public.’ Yet regulations are being cut and laws are being removed. Rather than trying to make the ones we have effective. Simplifying or getting rid of rules is all right, as long as it does not reduce the protection to the worker.
We want business to do well, but not at the cost of people being injured or killed, because an employer decided safety just wasn’t that important a priority. Such employers should be held accountable.
Safe working environments aren’t a ‘burden to the business’; it’s a benefit for all involved,*2 and union workplaces are known to be safer workplaces*3. We need to tell the government to stop the cuts in health & safety. Because to continue along these lines, will only see more people being killed and injured because of work. Causing heartbreak and distress to the families of loved ones who left for work one day, yet didn’t return home because of a workplace incident. We must campaign for strong regulation and enforcement in place. Only that way will workers be safer.
A campaign has been launched by Hazards in response to the government attacks on workplace safety and health called ‘We Didn’t Vote to Die at Work’. To fight against the deregulation of health & safety, the misrepresentation of health & safety, the lie that it is a burden on business and the government cuts to health & safety. To find out more information please follow this link www.hazards.org/votetodie
See how much you know about workplace health and safety in Great Britain and take this quick quiz. The figures are likely to surprise you. www.gmhazards.org.uk/info.html
Unite Snr Health & Safety rep for a Leicester firm