Government cuts to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have hobbled its ability to enforce regulations that save workers' lives, and some of the UK's most dangerous workplaces have never been inspected.
These are the findings of new research from the TUC, which asked health and safety reps across different industries about the frequency of HSE inspections.
Construction is one of the most hazardous fields in which to work, with 65,000 work-related injuries and 67,000 work-related illnesses in 2015 alone. But over 80% of workplaces in the sector have never been inspected, the research showed. Only 17% of construction reps were aware of an inspection occurring at their workplace in the last year.
A similar trend appears across the economy, with 46% of respondents in all industries saying their workplace had never been inspected by the HSE and only 24% saying theirs had been inspected in the last 12 months.
By 2019/20, the government will have slashed half of the HSE's funding, and the TUC reports that local councils have also reduced their workplace inspections by 97%.
Furthermore, the government has put new legislation in place to make it more difficult for workers to claim compensation for work-related injuries and illnesses, such as putting the onus on workers to prove negligence on behalf of the employer and thereby repealing a 114-year old law introduced by the Victorians!
Without enforcement, regulations become toothless, and more workers are put at risk.
This news comes just weeks after the announcement that an employer with no background in representing workers was appointed to one of just three seats on the HSE board that are reserved for workers' reps.
Our experts will be analysing the Tories' ideological attack on health and safety and the resulting dangers to workers at our forthcoming health and safety conferences in London and Liverpool.
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