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From The Socialist newspaper, 17 June 2015

The real health and safety 'madness'

Michael Barker

Health and safety gone mad! When I finished school (in 1994), starry-eyed and eager to join the great British workforce, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) - the body responsible for looking after workers' health - employed some 5,545 staff.

To be honest I always thought they needed more employees to get their job done. But eleven years on, this number was 3,903 and falling.

Further reductions

"What's going on?" I asked myself. This decline was out of the ball park: health and safety insanity. By 2013 things were getting even madder, now our entire country employed only 2,769 HSE workers.

So only one in 20 major injuries are investigated by the HSE, and only one in 170 results in prosecution.

Now if that isn't health and safety 'gone mad', what is? Yet the jury is already in: health and safety regulations benefit all society, not just the workers whose lives are in danger.

"Available evidence suggests inspection and enforcement activities can stimulate innovation, have no negative and a probable positive effect on job creation, support economic activity, and reduce costs to business though sickness absence and improved performance," concludes one recent report.

But the madness seemingly never ends. The Con-Dem Coalition coldly cut state funding for HSE by over 40% over its last term in power.

As an organisation designed to keep our employers in check, the HSE, which might have had some regulatory teeth in the past, is now as gummy as a cartoon OAP.

Trade unions

Trade unions have trained up thousands of health and safety reps - that's why unionised workplaces are safer workplaces as well as being better paid.

But with the new government, our safety appears to be even more in the hands of money-grubbing, union-hating bosses.

So get involved in the fightback and join me and many other active trade unionists at the conference of the National Shop Stewards Network on 4 July.

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Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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In The Socialist 17 June 2015:


Socialist Party news and analysis

A strategy to beat the bosses

Stop Osborne's cruel cuts

Tower Hamlets election - Labour's Mr Biggs wins

Fight the snoopers' charter!

Orgreave: Police violence and cover-up whitewashed by IPCC

Them & Us


Socialist Party feature

How can we stop austerity?


Socialist history

When organised mass action defeated the Tories

1985: How school students beat the Tories


Socialist Party workplace news

Bakery workers fight pay freeze and other cuts

School kitchen workers win 9.15 an hour

Fighting mood from Unison delegates

Fire service cuts a double-edged sword

Irony of victimised gardener

Workplace news in brief


International socialist news and analysis

Turkey: historic breakthrough for left

International news in brief


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Youth Fight Austerity: protest on 8 July!

Give us the resources to fight Tory attacks

Asylum solidarity - Justice for Janahan


Socialist Party comments and reviews

Fight back with the real socialists!

The real health and safety 'madness'


 

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Related links:

Health and safety:

triangleStop Royal Mail's profit-driven plans to force postal workers to share vans

triangleUniversity workers ballot for action against in-person teaching

triangleNational Education Union must launch action now

triangleJohnson's schools social-distancing lie

triangleFight the schools Covid crisis

Health:

triangleHackney & Islington Socialist Party: Mental health and socialism

triangleNHS workers

triangleEven more delay in stopping school transmission?

triangleAs school cases soar - is contact tracing 'near breaking point'?

Hse:

triangleJohnson claims workplaces safe but HSE cancels inspections

triangleThe Socialist inbox

Injuries:

triangleHorror of health-wrecking toil for Polish migrants

triangleThe scandal of death at work

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