The harsh economic climate, austerity-related job cuts and job loss fears amongst those still in work is having a real impact on the health and well-being of British workers, according to a recently published Trade Union Council (TUC) safety survey.
Top Safety Concerns Include Bullying
The top safety concerns cited in 2012 by union safety reps in the TUC’s 10th biennial survey this year included stress, bullying and harassment, problems relating to heavy workloads and overwork, and violence and intimidation.
The TUC feels that many of these increasing concerns are due to the increasing fears of insecurity and unease being felt throughout the UK workforce as spending cuts and austerity economics hit hard.
Decline in Number of Safety Inspections
Safety reps in the TUC survey also raised concerns regarding a decline in the number of safety inspections. The TUC fears this situation will only worsen as cuts to the budgets of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and local authorities mean that in future there will be fewer HSE and council safety inspectors to review employers.
Just under half (45 percent) of the 1,875 safety reps who responded to the TUC survey earlier this year said that their workplace had never had a visit from a safety inspector. One in ten of the safety reps (ten per cent) hadn’t seen a safety inspector in their workplace for more than three years, and another 16 per cent said their workplace hadn’t been inspected for between one and three years.
Only 28 percent of union safety reps reported a visit from a safety inspector in the past year and even in sectors like construction, well-known for its poor safety records, less than half (41 percent) said their building sites had received a safety inspection in the last 12 months.
Less Likely to Make Safety Improvements
Worryingly, because employers are becoming aware that a visit from a safety inspector might be years away, safety reps claimed their employers were now less likely to make safety improvements for fear of a possible inspection. Two years ago, 61 percent of safety reps said their employer had made some attempt at safety improvements because of the possibility of an inspection. In 2012 this had declined to 53 per cent.
In 2011, 173 workers died at work and thousands more were made ill by their jobs because their employers reportedly didn’t place a high enough premium on their safety.
Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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