Con Dem cuts mean more deaths on sites
HSE staff outside their office with Construction Safety Campaigners on Workers Memorial Day.
"It is understood that HSE chief executive Geoffrey Podger is proposing that face-to-face contact by inspectors be replaced by web-based initiatives. The plans were contained in a leaked letter obtained by the BBC's File on Four programme and form part of the HSE response to the government's decision to cut its funding by at least 35 per cent".
The building union UCATT and organisations like the Construction Safety Campaign and Families Against Corporate Killing have long been warning that any erosion of health and safety provisions would lead to an increase in workplace deaths.
Already under the previous Labour government there were complaints of not enough inspections, and HSE inspectors themselves warned they were inadequately staffed and facing cutbacks.
UCATT general secretary Alan Ritchie, quoted in the 'Star' said: "These cuts will kill.
"In construction large numbers of employers simply ignore safety laws. The only thing which compels them to keep workers safe is the fear of a knock on the door from the HSE. If you remove that deterrent deaths will increase."
The Morning Star report continues:
'The union said that voluntary directors' duties on health and safety had failed - citing HSE figures showing that only 19 per cent of directors had even read the guidelines.
Mr Ritchie added: "The softly, softly approach has been proven to be a failure.
"If companies don't care about safety then a glossy leaflet or a flashy website is not going to change their minds. Particularly if they know that it will not be followed up by inspections and a prosecution."
He said the blame rested with the government for imposing the cuts on an already strained HSE.
FACK spokeswoman Hilda Palmer told the Star: "Far too many people are killed under the current regime of workplace health and safety law and enforcement which is totally inadequate to stop non-compliant employers killing workers.
"It is utterly horrifying that due to government budget cuts the HSE, the body that should be the workers' safety and health champion, now plans to cut proactive inspections by another third.
Politicians and press like to condemn 'violence' if protesters so much as throw a plastic bottle or break a window. But workers' injuries and even deaths at work are often unreported, let alone commented upon.
The government is making them more likely.
What is that if not violence?