Socialist Worker

Alarm at Tories' attack on health and safety

Issue No. 2242

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is proposing to reduce unannounced workplace inspections by at least a third.

A leaked letter from the HSE outlines plans to withdraw inspections from entire sectors of industry, including some where “significant risk” remains.

The organisation is facing a 35 percent cut in its government funding.

HSE chief executive Geoffrey Podger has proposed a reduction in what the HSE calls “proactive inspections”.

There is also a Tory proposal to radically reduce accident reporting requirements.

Currently any accident that leads to a worker being off sick for more than three days has to be reported. The Tories want to make that seven days.

The Tories are also set to launch yet another full-scale review of health and safety regulation.

Trade unionists and campaigners packed into a rally on workplace safety at the House of Commons on Wednesday of last week.

The Trade Union Coordinating Group meeting saw health and safety reps highlight to MPs “deadly” cuts to the HSE.

Dorothy Wright, founder member of Families Against Corporate Killers (FACK), gave a moving account of the death of her son, Mark, and her long struggle for any kind of justice.

Hilda Palmer, of the Hazards Campaign, called on the trade union movement to mount a determined campaign against attempts to undermine workplace regulations.

Simon Hester Prospect union rep for London HSE Inspectors addressed the meeting.

Labour MP John McDonnell described the current government approach as the most serious attack ever on health and safety laws.

He said, “We are being pushed back to the legal standards of the 1920s when workers’ health and safety was voluntary for the bosses.”

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Sat 12 Mar 2011, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 2242
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