Socialist Worker

Will new plans stop work deaths?

Issue No. 1704

Health and safety

Will new plans stop work deaths?

EVERY YEAR millions of people become ill going to work. Over two million workers suffer work related health problems like stress and back pain. A further million workers are victims of physical injuries at work every year. In 1998-9 there were 29,000 major injuries to workers. Around 400 people died as a result.

These shocking figures have provoked a new campaign by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) government watchdog. The HSE claims its new action plan will include tougher penalties, like prison sentences for managers and increasing the maximum fine on companies taken to lower courts to 20,000.

Whether such welcome talk will become reality is open to question. Between 1996-8 the HSE only investigated 11 percent of major workplace injuries. Not one director or manager was taken to court to be held to account for deaths at work.

Building rank and file union organisation is the key to fighting for decent health and safety at work. Workplaces with safety reps have half the rate of accidents compared to workplaces without such reps.

  • SOME 4,000 people a year are still dying of asbestos-related diseases, despite the killer dust being banned from use. The shocking figures came in a TUC report this week.

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Sat 8 Jul 2000, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1704
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