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REVIEW OF HEALTH AND SAFETY UNION RESPONSE

Trades Union Congress publish response to Lord Young review of safety

The TUC has published its submisson to Lord Young on the issues he is considering during the Government Review of health and safety.  

The conclusions and summary are reproduced below:

Comment

The TUC appears to see no need for major change in the current system. It does not support calls for “exempting any employer” nor removing any group of employees “from the protection the law gives”.

It is argued that in the field of employers liability there is no evidence of a compensation culture.

It may be that there is common ground between Lord Young and the TUC after his Lordship commented recently “I am beginning to realise that perception, not reality, is a large part of the problem.”

TUC conclusions and summary
  1. The TUC believes that there is a strong need for greater investment in health and safety. As we come out of the recession injury rates may rise. We also need to tackle the ill-health epidemic that costs the country billions of pounds a year through sickness absence. All this is avoidable, but will require both resources and commitment from the top.
  2. We want to see our political leaders acting as champions for occupational health and safety. There is both a strong business and moral case for ensuring that employers take their responsibilities seriously. There should also be more recognition and support for the role that trade union safety representatives make.
  3. The Government should act as an exemplar, both as an employer and also as a commissioner of services, including when commissioning construction projects.
  4. We also need a strong regulatory framework, but one this is simple and effectively and proportionately enforced. The TUC is a strong believer in good regulation, but regulation on its own will achieve nothing unless it is enforced. The need to comply with good regulation should not be seen as a burden, but a responsibility.
  5. Regulation is there to protect those who need protection. It should be judged on its effectiveness on doing that. In the case of health and safety the regulatory framework clearly has made a difference in the safety field but much more needs to be done to tackle the health issues.
  6. We do not believe that there can be any case for exempting any employer from their responsibilities to protect their workforce, nor should any employee groups be removed from the protection the law gives.
  7. Where workers are injured or made ill as a result of negligence they should be entitled to compensation. Although most workers do not claim compensation, and there is absolutely no evidence of any ‘compensation culture’ in the employers liability field we would welcome discussions on what steps could be taken to speed up claims and thereby reduce costs.
  8. Finally the TUC believes that the HSE is a world-class organisation whose staff provide an invaluable service that is second to none. Its work has ensured that Britain’s sickness absence and death rate is much lower than it would otherwise be. Their publications, guidance and research have led the way internationally and we would strongly argue for an enhanced role for the organisation.

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