Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 6 October 2010

Reader's comment

Warning: this government could seriously damage your safety

Lord David Young's report on reforming health and safety laws is due to be released as The Socialist goes to press. Young has said that health and safety has been turned into a 'music hall joke'. A health and safety officer explains that this report, rather than encouraging 'a return to common sense' is more likely to be a serious threat to workers' rights.

Behind all the headline cuts that are hitting workers day after day is a less noticeable attack. Lord Young, a hatchet man in Margaret Thatcher's Tory cabinet, is being used by David Cameron to roll back the advances, made by trade unions, in making workplaces safer.

Bosses have always hated health and safety (H&S); at best they pay lip service to it.

The newspapers try to rubbish it with headlines such as "Clown cannot wear giant shoes due to health and safety" (Daily Telegraph 23 April 2009), "Now pin the tail on the donkey falls victim to health and safety fears" (Daily Mail, 10 May 2010) and "Health and Safety chiefs ban candy floss sticks" (Click Liverpool, 30 May 2010).

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) now produces "myth of the month" to debunk the lies put out by the papers.

The Tories have attacked the "compensation culture", which has reportedly gripped the country. Liberal Democrat Vince Cable will chair the Reducing Regulation Committee and says that "the cost of employing people clearly needs to be reduced"!

As a full time health and safety officer, my time is spent managing how H&S is carried out and informing senior management and supervisors how to keep the company compliant with all H&S law and regulations.

I have to ensure staff and contractors appreciate hazards and workplace risks with regular training and 'permits to work' for dangerous activities.

I have to get the risks identified and actions taken to reduce them, ensuring they are continually re-assessed to check that all agreed actions have been carried out.

When I started at the company it was only 40% compliant with the law. Before that it was only 10% compliant despite having someone in charge of H&S. However, he had no training. Prior to my time, he was replaced by someone with little experience and training. Outside consultants had to be brought in. The H&S culture hadn't changed and compliancy stayed at 40%. This is typical of small to medium size companies.

Due to years of campaigning, unionised workplaces are much safer than the rest. Most employers see H&S as a 'ticking the box' exercise that costs them money. My job is to change that culture.

The safety campaign group Hazards recently reported that workplaces can expect to see a HSE inspector once every 38 years, compared with once every eight years a decade ago. This means that serious criminal safety breaches are going unseen and unchallenged.

The accident rate has fallen as H&S has changed the way we work. No longer do large projects like railways and skyscrapers get measured in terms of how many workers died during construction.

As Thompsons Solicitors points out: "health and safety legislation does protect millions every day from being injured or killed at work. Deaths at work, though still unacceptably high at 151 in the last year, are at an all time low."

HSE figures show that recorded major accidents have fallen in recent years in manufacturing and construction. But in public services they have risen as cutbacks have set in.

Thompsons' statistics show a fall in the number of union-backed personal injury claims of between 19% and 36%. This shows up the lie of Cameron and co who say that we live in a "compensation culture". Government statistics from the Compensation Recovery Unit (CRU) show that employer liability claims have fallen by 69% - from 219,183 in 2000/1 to 78,744 in 2009/10.

Outside of work the same is true, despite the continuous adverts for 'no win no fee' legal firms. The only exceptions to this trend are road traffic accident (RTA) cases. They have risen significantly. RTA cases are 70% of the personal injury market.

So why the hype? The Con-Dem government wants to systematically attack gains made over the last 30 years. Every union member must take up this attack on our rights and fight back against these threats to our health and safety.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.

In The Socialist 6 October 2010:

Defend Child Benefits

Tories turn clock back

Socialist Students

Students must fight back

Campaigning Socialist Students win support

YFJ and PCS unite against cuts in Leeds

Socialist Party editorial

National Shop Stewards Network and the struggle against Con-Dem attacks

National conference called against cuts in jobs and services

Anti-cuts campaign

No excuses for not fighting cuts

Thousands tell Tories: 'No cuts'

Paying below the minimum

Bristol MPs fail to answer young workers' anger at PCS debate

Meetings and protests against the cuts

Labour councillor's contempt for care centre users

Save Buttercups nursery

Protests on October 23 to fight the government's spending review axe

News in brief

Socialist Party workplace news

Solid strike by Tube workers

Time to strengthen RMT's fighting leadership

Support TSG strike

Health and Safety

Warning: this government could seriously damage your safety

Europe: fighting the cuts

Spain: workers demonstrate their strength

Ireland: a socialist alternative to the crisis

Portuguese workers win the promise of a general strike

Internationalism against austerity: 100,000 demonstrate in Belgium

Socialism 2010

Why you should come to Socialism 2010

Socialism 2010 - a weekend of discussion and debate

International socialist analysis

Chávez wins majority but right-wing gains ground

Socialist Party review

Made in Dagenham


Nuneaton: community must organise against racism

Leicester: action needed against EDL

Campaign defeats BNP in Stroud


Home   |   The Socialist 6 October 2010   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  

Related links:

Health and safety:

triangleFood processing workers vote for action against miserly bosses

triangleThe Socialist inbox

triangleBin workers - fifth week of strike action

triangleBin workers' anger boils over into strike action

triangleToxic fracking could start in England in 2017


triangleSouth London health bosses' cover-up

triangleTotnes MP uses coffin controversy to distract from brutal NHS cuts

triangleSave our NHS

triangleGlenfield victory shows people power can save our NHS


triangleThe real health and safety 'madness'

triangleThe scandal of death at work


triangleSupport the Crossrail Woolwich walkout

triangleUnite day of action against blacklisting

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns


Waltham Forest

Stop the rotten redevelopment plan, demand residents



Six months on - still no justice for Grenfell



Movement growing against fracking giant Ineos



Totnes MP uses coffin controversy to distract from brutal NHS cuts



Tory plan to hold dinner at coal mining museum defeated



Bradford campaign to save children's services launched


South London

South London health bosses' cover-up



Unite day of action against blacklisting



Brighton victory



Newham anti-academies strikes


Tamil Solidarity

Tamil Solidarity and Refugee Rights activists meeting



Support the Crossrail Woolwich walkout



Unite protest against blacklisting



Anti-DOO lobby of Liverpool's transport committee


Donald Trump

Mobilise to stop bigoted billionaire Donald Trump's state visit to Britain

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle14 Dec Stop the rotten redevelopment plan, demand residents

triangle13 Dec Six months on - still no justice for Grenfell

triangle13 Dec Movement growing against fracking giant Ineos

triangle13 Dec Totnes MP uses coffin controversy to distract from brutal NHS cuts

triangle13 Dec Trump's incendiary Jerusalem statement reignites Israeli-Palestinian...

triangle13 Dec Labour 'purge' furore really just democracy

EU parliament, Strasbourg

triangle13 Dec Brexit deal no solution to Tory rifts

More ...

triangle14 Dec Wakefield Socialist Party: Universal Credit - the Tories' latest assault on the poor

triangle18 Dec Leeds Socialist Party: Religion and Socialism

triangle19 Dec Bristol North Socialist Party: Christmas social

triangle21 Dec Wakefield Socialist Party: Socialists and the National Question

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



December 2017

November 2017

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017





















Platform setting: = No platform choice