Socialist Worker

Tories slash health and safety checks, despite shocking figures

by Julie Sherry
Issue No. 2320

Tory business minister Michael Fallon is pushing new legislation that would see over 3,000 health and safety regulations scrapped.

The Tories want to bring in the new rules next April. They would see offices, pubs, clubs and shops lose what Fallon has described as “burdensome” health and safety inspections.

This is about further freeing bosses of accountability for the safety of those working at their firms. The Tories want profit to have free reign at the expense of workers’ lives.

The attack includes introducing changes next month to ensure bosses are only liable for civil damages in health and safety cases if they’re proven to have acted negligently. Cuts to inspections alongside this will only let more bosses off the hook.

Since the coalition came to power, ministers have eroded health and safety legislation. Last month they proposed that self-employed workers should no longer have to report injuries or illness.

Attempts to escalate the attacks are all the more shocking in light of figures coming out of the TUC congress this week.

More than two million people in Britain suffer from a work-related illness, the TUC reveals. Around 12,000 people a year die as a result.

Mesothelioma, a lung cancer linked to asbestos, kills 2,000 people a year and radiation exposure claims another 280.

Yet according to Prospect union research, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has just three occupational physicians and 18 occupational health inspectors across England and Wales.

Two decades ago the HSE had 60 of each. The government has cut 25 percent of the HSE’s budget since 2010. The TUC heard the statistics as part of a debate emphasising opposition to the HSE cuts.

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Tue 11 Sep 2012, 15:58 BST
Issue No. 2320
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