Health & Safety

HSEStill in the 21st Century people are dying or being made ill by their work. According to the HSE 1.2 million people who worked during the last year were suffering from an illness (long standing as well as new cases) they believed was caused or made worse by their current or past work and 180 workers were killed at work. But the reality is that these figures are even higher due to the HSE’s inadequate reporting methodology. Being a victim of a work-related fatality or injury is far more likely than experiencing conventionally defined and measured violence and homicide.

The last period has seen a growing lobby to dilute existing and already inadequate health and safety legislation – along with cuts to the Health and Safety Executive’s budget and thus the level of enforcement. Yet, whilst health and safety regulations may make dents into private profit, failure to abide by them (along with the limitations of these regulations and HSE enforcement) costs our society billions. We know that the real burden of health and safety is paid by workers and their families. Why should tax payers have to pay for the consequences of employers cutting corners to maximise their profits? Deregulation of health and safety legislation will just mean that employers will further extract productivity from a worker until they become injured or ill and then leave them to rely on a shrinking welfare state. For all the talk about ‘compensation culture’, most workers injured at work and then unable to earn a living, end up struggling in poverty on disability benefits or dependent on a partner. Health and safety at work is about ensuring the minimum standards of working conditions. It is about saving and prolonging lives. It is about people. The simple demand to not be exposed to death and illness at work is not ‘red tape gone too far’ but a basic human right.

Any suggestion that the lives and dignity of workers can be offset against the cost to business flies in the face of the principles of rights at work which should be at the core of the Health and Safety Executive and any civilised society. It is clear that the current system of prevention and enforcement is not adequate. The legislative framework needs to be tightened and that the Health and Safety Executive needs to be adequately resourced if we are to stop more people dying or sustaining avoidable injury.



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By MIchael Calderbank

Foreword by Mark Serwotka, PCS General Secretary


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Based on research commissioned by the TUCG, the book examines why costs have risen for all items of expenditure, ranging from housing and child care to food and transport. He makes practical proposals on how these costs can be reduced. He also delivers an uncompromising message to the leaders of all mainstream Westminster Parties: it is time to end the politics of austerity, an ideological project to cut the size of the state permanently.