David Cameron said last year that health and safety in the workplace was “an albatross around the neck of British business...” and he wants to “kill off the health and safety culture for good”. Figures released in March by the Health and Safety Executive, whose statutory powers are being cut and its staff decimated, show that 175 workers died from injuries sustained at work in 2011-12 and that 50,000 workers die each year from work-related illnesses, including 6,000 from occupational cancers.
Launching its latest edition of Hazards at Work, the TUC noted that the government has cut the HSE budget by 35 per cent, and local authority safety inspection teams are also working with substantially reduced funding, at a time when Britain’s safety record appears to be getting worse.
“In 2010/11, the latest figures available, there was a 16 per cent increase in deaths across all workplaces, with some industries such as construction (22 per cent) seeing an even bigger rise,” said the TUC.
It predicts the current upward trend in workplace fatalities will “not be reversed unless there is an increase in the enforcement of health and safety law in all workplaces”. ■