Will the Government cuts to the health and safety budget lead to more risk?

 

There has been a recent up-roar in response to the government’s planned budget cuts to health and safety.

The general attitude is that the government sees Health and Safety as a burden rather than what it really is; a system that protects people in the workplace. According to the Trade Union Congress (TUC) the government’s cuts to the budget over the past four years, whether to inspections, regulations, or funding, have continuously been harming British employees. This has caused an overwhelming feeling from the workers that the government cares more for the profits than the workers themselves.

The latest reports [1] to look at rates of injury in the work place show that an estimated 646,000 workers were injured at work between 2012 and 2013. Of these, 231,000 injuries resulted in over 3 day’s absence from work and 175,000 led to over 7 days consecutively. This, although significantly lower than recent years, still has a massive effect on the infrastructure of the UK, and more importantly the morale of the workforce. Many in the health and safety industry feel that the recent cuts will set back an entire generation of hard work and progress in the world of health and safety, causing dramatic increases to these injury figures.

The TUC have noted[2] that workplace ‘incidents’ are more frequently not incidents at all, but a result of employer negligence. To spot this negligence before an incident occurs is the primary objective of most health and safety inspections, as part of a wider and more strategic approach to behavioural safety. However, a report from TUC [3] claims that the number of local authority inspections have dropped by 93% over the last four years. The government’s plans to reduce this further, and even discount self-employed workers entirely which could seriously affect workers safety and wellbeing. The TUC highly recommends that the government reconsiders these reductions. Frances O’Grady, TUC General Secretary said that “There is a real danger that further cuts and deregulation will destroy the workplace safety culture that has existed in Britain for many decades”

As the recession ends, and jobs become more available across the United Kingdom, it should be a joyous time for the UK workforce. However, as more workers are needed, more inexperienced workers are taken on, especially within the construction industry. In the wake of budget cuts to health and safety, these inexperienced workers prove a danger to themselves and the people around them.

In London alone the amount of deaths on construction sites has doubled recently. Many believe this rise is due to employers cutting corners and not providing sufficient training, an issue that would be solved with proper risk assessment processes and health and safety inspections.

As the government comes under scrutiny, many businesses are finding their health and safety solutions elsewhere. Companies specialising in safety software solutions that support a QHSE programme can help improve the overall safety of any workforce.

Airsweb, a provider of health, safety and environmental services, are able to work with companies to find the perfect solution to most safety issues, enabling your employees to work to their maximum ability. In the case of Severn Trent Water, Airsweb were able to smoothly implement a single integrated system that provides results across all areas of such a diverse company as STW as well as their contractors. In a recent video, Sarah from STW talks about the company's needs and how they are being fulfilled including increasing pro-active reporting by 100%. Airsweb are proud to be able to work with a diverse range of clients, adapting to each one’s needs.

To find out more about the personalised solutions we could offer your company visit our ‘Solutions’ page or call us on 0151 289 6811.

Glenn Hardy

Lee Davies

 

Sources:

[1] http://www.hse.gov.uk/STATISTICS/causinj/index.htm

[2] http://www.theinformationdaily.com/2014/04/28/health-and-safety-red-tape-cut-will-threaten-workers-lives

[3]  http://www.tuc.org.uk/workplace-issues/health-and-safety/workers-memorial-day/government-cuts-vital-health-and-safety-%E2%80%98red

 

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