Push for Workplaces to Be Exempt from Health & Safety Inspections
Protecting workers saves money as well as lives, British union UNISON said recently in its response to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills announcement that hundreds of thousands of workplaces should be exempt from health and safety inspections.
According to UNISON, the government intends to introduce binding new rules on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and councils from April 2013, exempting hundreds of thousands of workplaces that have been designated ‘low risk’ from regular health and safety inspections.
Exemptions Include Offices, Schools, Catering & Cleaning
Its interpretation of low risk encompasses most of the workplaces where UNISON members are employed including offices and schools, and sectors such as health and social care, catering and cleaning.
Unison Opposes Exemptions
“The government does not take into consideration occupational ill health such as musculoskeletal disorders (aches and pains in joints and soft tissue) and work-related stress, which are the most common types of ill-health in so-called low risk workplaces, and account for more than three quarters of all work-related injuries and illness currently suffered in the UK.” commented UNISON assistant national officer James Randall. “It also intends to scrap health and safety regulations which it claims are a burden on business.
Health and Safety Can Be Driver for Growth
However, in 2011 a survey conducted by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health found that health and safety can be used as a driver for growth, given that protecting workers saves money, according to Randall.
Work-related accidents and ill health costs businesses nearly $12.83 Billion a year through absenteeism, low productivity and legal bills. The research found the overall cost of health and safety failures to the public purse, including welfare and health bills, is estimated at $35.28 billion.
UNISON believes that by reducing inspections by one-third and slashing regulations, business and the taxpayer will face the bigger burden of an injured and unwell workforce.
“We must organize and campaign to defend against the government’s attack on health and safety at work, added Randall. “If you share our belief that everyone should be able to work without having their health damaged by their job, then join UNISON in speaking up for health and 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: email@example.com.
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