The Trade Union Congress (TUC) has voiced its concerns over UK Government 'attacks' on health and safety legislation, warning of the serious consequences for the UK workforce.
In a report, Toxic, Corrosive and Hazardous: The Government’s Record on Health and Safety, TUC reviews the UK's health and safety system over the past four years, showing that the Government has:
- cut state funding of the HSE by over 40 per cent;
- set up three reviews to look at the ‘burden’ of health and safety regulation and another to look at the function of the HSE, which have led to considerable disruption and reductions in protection for workers;
- drastically cut HSE and local authority inspections;
- blocked any new regulations and removed a number of existing protections;
- ditched important Codes of Practice;
- cut the level of support and guidance available to employers and health and safety representatives;
- changed what employers have to report, undermining the amount of knowledge that we have on levels of injury and illness;
- drastically cut the HSE’s work on occupational health issues;
- blocked new initiatives from Europe and attempted to reduce existing protection;
- made it much harder for workers to claim compensation after they are injured or made ill; and,
- undermined the independence of the HSE.
The report illustrates the 'significant' effects these issues are having and will have upon workers - with many more lives being unnecessarily put at risk.
Frances O’Grady, TUC General Secretary commented: "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". Ms O'Grady continued: "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".
To combat the problem, with the aim being to reduce illnesses, injuries and deaths caused by work, the TUC report recommends the Government take the following ten steps:
- All workplaces should be inspected regularly by the enforcing authority.
- There should be revised regulations on safety representatives and safety committees to increase coverage and effectiveness.
- Occupational health should have the same priority as injury prevention.
- There should be a new, legally binding dust standard.
- Exposure to carcinogens in the workplace must be removed.
- There should be a law governing a maximum temperature in the workplace.
- There should be increased protection for vulnerable and atypical workers.
- There should be a legal duty on directors.
- Health and safety to be a significant factor in all public sector procurement.
- The UK government should adopt, and comply with, all health and safety conventions from the International Labour Organization
Toxic, Corrosive and Hazardous: The Government’s Record on Health and Safety is available at:
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