With the ink still drying on Lord Young’s report on the Compensation Culture, the TUC reports that almost half (49 per cent) of workplaces in the UK have never been visited by a health and safety inspector.The TUC’s biennial survey of safety reps, published today, finds nearly one in 10 says that the last inspection at their workplace was more than three years ago, while a further 15 per cent say it was between one and three years ago. Only around a quarter (27 per cent) say their workplace has received a visit within the last 12 months. In small companies who employ less than 50 people only 16 per cent have had an inspection in the last year. Even among large workplaces with over 1,000 workers, only one third (33 per cent) have been inspected within the last 12 months. Despite the low level of inspection, the TUC believes that enforcement has an effect on employers taking action to make improvements in health and safety and cut the number of accidents and injuries at work. The proportion of employers who make some improvements because of the possibility of an inspection has jumped up to 61 per cent from 52 per cent in the last survey, and two thirds of employers do more than the minimum to comply with a legal enforcement notice. TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: ‘Knowing that an inspector is likely to visit is one of the key drivers to changing employers’ behaviour and making the workplace safer and healthier. ‘More than a million workers are currently suffering from an illness or injury caused by their work, and in 2009 over 30 million days were lost due to work-related sickness absence. This time off work cost employers £3.7 billion – yet much of this could health have been prevented if they had ensured their workplaces were safe. Deep cuts in spending, and a reduced visit programme as recommended by Lord Young, will make it easier for employers to avoid their obligations under the law to protect their staff at work. The Health and Safety Executive has just seen its government funding cut by 35 per cent. These are worrying times for the UK workforce as Lord Young’s recommendations to government seek to reduce the health and safety legislation ‘burden’ on British industry in the name of enhancing efficiency and improving competitiveness. As the TUC has pointed out, the cost to industry in terms of days lost and payments made to people unable to work due to injury or industrial illness far outwiegh any short term gains that cutting so-called health and safety ‘red tape’ might deliver. The evidence suggests that more, not fewer accidents at work can be expected if HSE inspections are decreased from an already low level. If you have been hurt or injured in an accident at work, or if you have been diagnosed with an industrial illness or disease you can call us FREE on 0800 163 978 for a no obligation review of your case by a personal injury solicitor.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), has today warned Lord Young to keep the emphasis on safety, not cost cutting, when he starts consulting on the implementation phase following his recent report, published on 15th October.We are pleased to read that in response to Lord Young’s report Tom Mullarkey, RoSPA’s chief executive, echoed the views of trades unions and health and safety professionals that accident prevention not only saves lives but it saves money – a point hopefully not lost on the noble peer as he seeks to reduce the ‘burden’ on industry of complying with the nation’s health and safety laws. Mr. Mullarkey said: “We welcome the opportunity provided by Lord Young’s review to open debate into how accident prevention can contribute to the wellbeing of the nation and reduce costs. There is a great opportunity here for the Government to come up with something progressive and positive – this is a rare silver bullet moment with the opportunity to save lives, reduce injuries and cut costs. As we have said many times, good health and safety is good for everyone. And we’re not just talking about health and safety in workplaces, we are urging the Government to see the bigger picture of accident prevention; for example, if we can save one small child from being seriously burnt that will save the tax payer £250,000 as well as a lifetime of suffering for the child.” Despite RoSPA’s warning shot we are sorry to say that we are not at all encouraged that Lord Young is aiming to focus on the economic benefits of robust health & safety legislation. The evidence of the report points to an entirely different mindset. Lord Young panders to the myth of a compensation culture and then, bizarrely, perfoms a u-turn by dismissing it as a myth. He goes on to wax lyrical about the cost savings of REDUCING the scope of existing workplace safety regulations and ‘streamlining the bureaucracy’ associated with assuring the safety of members of the public who participate in sports and leisure pursuits. Furthermore, in a sweeping generalisation comprised of of half truths and ill-judged prejudice, he permits himself to distinguish between low-risk and high-risk situations in a rambling discourse on the perceived dangers and relative safety of industrial workplace and office environments. We wonder whether Lord Young actually read ANY of the numerous and freely available independent reports on accident cause and prevention when he was compiling his report. If he had he would have noticed that offices and shops can also be hazardous and unhealthy places if safety standards are allowed to slip. Lord Young’s report is worryingly biased in scope and worryingly short on ideas which will have a positive impact on the nation’s health and safety. Worker safety is clearly at risk during the up-coming consulting phase on the report’s implementaion. We are very concerned that the voices of reason will be drowned out by the forces of self-interest that would seek to re-create a dismissive, laissez-faire attitude towards health & safety in this country more befitting owners of ‘dark satanic mills’ where worker injury and death were commonplace and accepted norms. The British public at work and at play deserves much better than to have 150 years of hard won progress on health & safety undermined by the creation of a new mindset which empathises with employers who plead for a less ‘restrictive’ legal framework and outdoor activity organisers who bleat about cost and spurious barriers to their operation. Bonnar & Company exists to fight for the rights of hurt and injured people and we vigorously oppose any attempt to water down the standard of health and safety regulations in the UK. We deal with the damage caused by those who choose to bypass or ignore the existing laws, so heaven knows what’s in store if we allow our health and safety legislation to be pared back to suit short-term and woefully misguided commercial interests. If you have been hurt or injured in an accident at work, on the road or in a public place, or if you have developed an industrial illness or disease, you can call us FREE on 0800 163 978 for no obligation expert legal advice from a personal injury solicitor.
Cuts to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and to local authority budgets announced in the spending review will make it easier for rogue employers to take unacceptable risks with the health and safety of thier workforce, the TUC claimed today.TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: “In the last seven days health and safety has been hit by a triple whammy. The Young Review, which last week semed to rule out any commitment from the Government to the occupational health agenda, was followed this week by deep cuts to spending which will make it easier for employers to avoid their obligations under the law to keep their staff safe and well at work. More than a million workers are currently suffering from an illness or injury caused by their work and last year over 30 million days were lost due to work-related sickness absence.” It seems pretty clear to us that Lord Young’s favoured yardsticks of productivity and profitability are actually best served by a robust commitment to worker health and safety which will deliver fewer days lost to accident and injury. However, it seems that he is intent on rolling back the scope of existing health and safety regulations as part of his strategy to tackle the perceived problem of the compensation culture. If you have been hurt or injured in an accident at work you can call us FREE on 0800 163 978 for a no obligation review of your claim by a personal injury solicitor.