Cost-cutting, not deregulation, is the motive for a package of measures announced by the government which will impact on the work of the Health and Safety Executive, British trade union Prospect reported recently.
The comments follow the launch of a New Strategy for Health and Safety Regulation in Great Britain that will include: (WCxKit)
1. A further review of regulation.
2. A reduction in proactive regulation.
3. The introduction of more fees for employers when HSE inspectors find fault.
Commenting on the strategy Prospect negotiator Mike Macdonald noted, “Today's announcement shows health and safety regulation in Britain is now driven by the government's wish to cut spending rather than by a professional assessment of what action saves lives and avoids accidents.
“The key question should be what type of regulation best suits British business and its workforce, not a simplistic dogma that all regulation is bad.”
At present, Macdonald stated, the average small or medium business is more apt to cease trading after six years than be visited by an HSE inspector, averaging once every 14 years.
“It's hardly excessive regulation and it also seems perverse to announce a review after introducing such significant change,” Macdonald continued. "It looks as if the government is determined to announce cuts before Professor Ragnar Lofstedt even starts his review. What happens if he concludes that more inspection, not less, is required?”
Prospects HSE members firmly believe that proactive inspection is vital not least because prevention is less expensive and better for business, employees and the taxpayer than the cost of putting lives back together after an accident, according to Macdonald. (WCxKit)
“We understand that the removal of proactive inspection from lower-risk workplaces is one of the least damaging options. But the government should recognize that this still means lives are being risked to achieve 35% budget cuts, far in excess of the average cut across the public sector. We have to ask, is health and safety such a low priority that it deserves such a cut,” Macdonald added.
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