The government’s fervent desire to cut back on “key” health and safety legislation will increase accidents and fatalities in the workplace, says TUC.
For Workers’ Memorial Day, April 28th, the TUC alerted the public that workplace deaths are infrequently genuine accidents, and are more likely the result of serious employer negligence.
The union organisation’s commemorative report, Toxic, Corrosive and Hazardous: the government’s record on health and safety, warns that the coalition government has “drastically cut” health and safety inspections.
Despite this, it is estimated that around 20,000 people die each year as a direct result of injuries or health problems sustained whilst at work.
Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspections, the report says, have experienced a 40 per cent cut to funding, compounded by a block on further regulation.
Shockingly, the report claims local authorities have dropped inspections by 93 per cent over the last four years. Further government proposals include H&S exemption for self-employed workers, a particularly vulnerable group for workplace accidents.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The government says that the UK is a safe place to work and that we don’t need any more regulation. If only this were the case. With the UK ranked just 20th in the health and safety risk index of 34 developed nations, we’ve hardly got a record to be proud of”.
The TUC recommend the government reconsider and completely reverse their position on the importance of health and safety, instead ensuring that all workplaces are inspected regularly and providing further resources for the often overlooked area of occupational health.
Regulation must be upheld for workers who inhabit particularly dusty or otherwise carcinogenic environments, the report states, as well as ensuring that a maximum acceptable workplace temperature is enforced.
O’Grady added: “There is a real danger that further cuts and deregulation will destroy the workplace safety culture that has existed in Britain for many decades – with a disastrous effect on workers health and safety.
“But there is an alternative – a government that is committed to protecting workers and puts a stop to the large-scale negligence that claims the lives or health of far too many workers and costs the state billions of pounds”.
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