Enforcement works, non-enforcement kills
A drastic cut in the UK's already under par workplace safety enforcement activity will lead to more death and injuries, the TUC has warned. The union body believes that the government's instruction to enforcement agencies to slash workplace inspections, cutting unannounced inspections by a third, 'will simply mean more deaths, injuries and illness. The biggest increases will be seen in those sectors where the HSE is withdrawing from pro-active inspections.' These include supposedly 'low risk' workplaces - a designation TUC describes as 'a myth' because they often have high risks of violence, occupational disease and other serious problems - and notoriously hazardous sectors including agriculture and quarrying. In a second information bulletin published ahead of a 28 April 'Day of action to defend health and safety', TUC notes the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has stated 'the expected 'lower level of enforcement' would mean a consequent decrease in health and safety standards throughout Great Britain, with ensuing costs to society.' TUC warns the UK's enforcement coverage is already below par. 'The International Labour Organisation says that it is a matter of concern if the number of inspectors in an industrialised country is less than 1 per 10,000 workers. In Britain it is one for every 15,615.' The briefing explains research has demonstrated that proper regulation and enforcement deliver safety improvements. 'Good employers have always supported both regulation and enforcement because it means that their competitors cannot take short-cuts with people's safety and undercut them,' TUC concludes. 'It is only unscrupulous or incompetent employers who fear consistent and fair regulation of health and safety.'
Issued: 27 January, 2012