Plans to slash health and safety slammed by unions
Workplace deaths in the UK could go widely unreported if new government plans to cut health and safety become a reality, the union Unite has warned.
According to Unite officials, workplace deaths could be underestimated by as much as 800% should changes to UK’s health and safety regulations be introduced by a government keen on cutting workplace bureaucracy.
The union accused ministers of introducing “light touch” health and safety regulations and called for an increase – rather than a decrease – in the number of inspectors and workplace inspections.
“The Government is hell bent on reducing health and safety Regulations and standards. It will lead to fewer inspections, less enforcement and more deaths, injuries and ill health at work,” said Len McCluskey, Unite General Secretary.
“Using the official statistics enables the Government to suggest that UK health and safety is better than everywhere else, and provides an excuse, albeit a very thin excuse, for cutting the health and safety responsibilities of UK employers.
“This is a complete myth, since the real number of people killed in work-related incidents each year is probably closer to 1,400, more than eight times the official Health and Safety Executive figure for 2011 of 171.”
Unite’s calls for a change in government plans were echoed by the public-sector trade union Unison this week, which argued that cuts of 35% to the Health and Safety Executive would affect health and safety inspections.
“The Government is wrong in believing that health and safety rules are a burden on business. Cut the funding to develop and enforce these rules, and business and the taxpayer will face the bigger burden of an injured and unwell workforce,” said Dave Prentis, Unison general secretary.
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