Hazards Campaign says: “Regulate, Regulate, Regulate! We love red tape and we want a health and safety system with workers at its centre that’s good for all!”
Like a bunch of demented Daleks, six business leaders are rolled out to repeat the same ludicrous robotic mantra: ‘Deregulate, Deregulate, Deregulate!’ in the ’Cut EU red tape’ report released yesterday (1). Similarly to previous reports attacking workplace health and safety, it is not based on evidence but is part of the government’s ideological drive to leave business free to do what it wants and to hell with workers’ health and lives.
It’s not new, or surprising and certainly not clever, but it is utterly amazing that anyone treats these unevidenced attacks as credible! Regulations developed over years to protect the safety and the short and long term health of workers, are not pointless meaningless bureaucracy to be derided and ridiculed. Every report of workers killed in Asian garment and other factory fires and the Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh, graphically illustrates the consequences of a lack of good health and safety regulation and enforcement in case anyone has forgotten what it used to be like here.
The report talks ignorantly of ‘low risk’ workplaces where in fact occupational ill health is rife – slips trips and falls, violence, musculo-skeletal disorders and stress are at epidemic levels- and 53% of the HSE reported work-deaths occur in this so called low risk sector. The Report claims deregulation is necessary for us to compete, presumably with Asian countries or the Britain of the last two centuries, with the consequent appalling workplace death rates?
Regulations that protect workers and members of the public from danger are an essential part of a civilised society and when they fail, as they are doing under government policies, people die from, for example increased Legionnaire’s disease outbreaks, horse meat turns up in our food, and workers are killed in incidents or made sick to death by uncontrolled risks. Relaxing the requirements on employers taking on young people may lead to more tragedies as in the case of 16 year old Cameron Minshull, killed by an industrial lathe in Bury this year when his Mum felt sure he was safe at work, on a government approved apprenticeship (2).
The real burden of current employers’ poor management of health and safety falls mainly on those harmed but it also costs a staggering over £30 billion per year (3). Even more staggering is that employers pay less than a quarter of the cost of the harm they cause. So the real problem at work is not too much red tape but too many bloody bandages (4). Government should be investing in the health of workers and protecting us, focusing on creating good jobs, as it is also good economic sense, rather than competing in the race to the bottom that deregulation causes. The Hazards Campaign, Hazards Magazine, TUC, Trade unions and many academics have repeatedly challenged the government with facts and evidence over the last 3 years. But this government is only interested in ideological ‘policy based evidence making’ and serving business interests, not workers lives and health.
The ’Cut EU red tape’ report is just another lazy, unevidenced, deadly demand by vested business interests, without consulting any representatives of those harmed by work, to legitimise bad work.
To the business leaders and government Daleks we say
“Regulate, Regulate, Regulate, we love red tape and we want a health and safety system with workers at its centre that is good for all!”
For more information contact Hilda Palmer, acting Chair of Hazards Campaign 0161 636 7557
Notes to editors
2. Death of Cameron Minshull, http://www.hazardscampaign.org.uk/fack/news/teendeath.htm
FACK is furious at Government release of misleading and inaccurate PR on Work Experience and Health and Safety which we fear will put children at greater risk: http://www.hazardscampaign.org.uk/fack/news/workexperience.htm
3. The HSE records the costs of poor health and safety i.e. deaths, injuries and illnesses (over 70% caused by poor management according to the HSE) as £13.4 billion per year, but this does not include the long latency illnesses like cancers. Each incident fatality costs £1.5 million and each occupational cancer costs £2.5 million (DEFRA costing). So, even taking HSE’s gross under-estimate of 8,000 work cancer deaths per year would add £20 billion to this total making it nearer £40 billion per year. Taking Hazards figures would make it nearer £60 billion. Of this cost, according to the HSE:
· individuals and families pay 54%,
· the state – us, tax payers, the public purse! – pays 23%, and
· employers, whose criminal negligence caused the harm, pay 24%
HSE Annual Statistics Report 2011/12: http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/overall/hssh1112.pdf
4. Hazards blueprint for saner Health and Safety Executive ‘We Love Red Tape’http://www.hazards.org/votetodie/citizensane