Health and safety specialists condemn cuts

Health and safety specialists condemn cuts

Prospect, the union for over 1,650 inspectors and other specialists in the Health and Safety Executive has condemned a leaked letter from the Health and Safety Executive that proposes a 30 per cent reduction to unannounced workplace inspections.

These proactive inspections are a key tool for increasing workplace health and safety as they bring inspectors into contact with employers who have not had a major accident.

Prospect says the proposal will also drastically affect work on industrial diseases as they require proactive inspection.

Negotiator Mike Macdonald said the leaked proposal was on the back of a 35 per cent cut to HSE’s government funding.

“Cutting these inspections will increase injuries at work. It would be perverse for HSE senior management to reduce inspections in response to major accidents that result in injury or deaths.

“Dramatic budget cuts will reduce proactive inspection. In areas of high industrial activity, inspectors are already so pushed by the rate of major accidents that proactive work is limited. The 30 per cent reduction will cut even deeper.

“Such inspections are at the cutting edge of HSE’s work and saves industry and the taxpayer hundreds of millions of pounds in lost working days and medical bills. It is a false economy.

“If I worked in a hazardous industry, I would not take any comfort from comments by the minister, Chris Grayling who believes that the HSE should only intervene after a serious accident rather than spend money on the HSE, and working with employers to avoid hazardous situations in the first place.”

The union says the government wants HSE to ratchet up levels of prosecutions rather than prevent accidents and illness.

“If this is an example of how the Big Society will operate, then it is going to be a more dangerous one where workplaces are effectively deregulated and where the safety of workers is subordinated to good performance figures,” said Macdonald.