Thursday, April 28, 2011

Remember the Dead, and Fight for the Living!

CONSTRUCTION SAFETY CAMPAIGNERS meet with HSE staff, and (right) FAMILIES remember loved ones.

TODAY is International Workers Memorial Day, and there are events in various places, with slogans like "Remember the Dead, and Fight for the Living". I am off to Tothill Street Westminster, where there's to be a demonstration outside the Department of Work and Pensions.

Taking advantage of a media campaign treating health and safety as a big joke, the Con Dem government is cutting safety provisions and taking away inspections. I don't think the families in our picture find this a joke - they all lost loved ones in accidents at work. Will the future be brighter for the two children, whose father was electrocuted on a London site because someone had cut corners on the lighting? Or will it get worse, thanks to this government?

I am sure the family of Mark Wright don't see safety as a joke. He was burned to death in a horrific incident at a Chester scrap yard because of inadequate information and lack of precautions.

I've written about Mark's case in this blog before, but I am glad to see now that it has also been taken up by a better writer than me, and one who reaches a wider audience. That's Johann Hari in the Independent. After describing what happened and what it has done to Mark's family, Hari goes on to say:

"We know what prevents events like this, and what saves men like Mark. The evidence is plain, and overwhelming. Dr Courtney Davis at the University of Sussex produced the most detailed study. She found that where you have rigorous, unannounced health and safety inspections, the number of accidents and deaths falls by 22 per cent over the next three years.

"But David Cameron has decided to do precisely the opposite. He is cutting the budget for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) by 35 per cent, and it has been announced that from now on entire sectors of British industry – including some where the HSE admits the dangers are "significant" – will never get an unannounced knock on the door again. There will be no more proactive inspections of agriculture, quarrying, manufacturing, or paper mills, where there is a long history of people being crushed, and even the most high-risk areas will be checked much less.

"Virtually every public health expert in Britain says this makes it a certainty more people will be maimed and killed simply doing their job. Professor Rory O'Neill, of Stirling University calls Cameron's policies "a recipe for regulatory surrender," and points out that "places where you might be rundown by a forklift truck or have your hand sliced off by a cutting machine or a guillotine" will now "never see a Health and Safety inspector. But worse than that, your employer will know they will never see a Health and Safety Inspector." The Government has even cancelled the campaigns to inform construction workers about the dangers of being exposed to asbestos."

If you haven't seen Johann Hari's piece , it's worth reading in full at:



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