Select Committee backs union’s call for more funds to protect safety at work


Select Committee backs union’s call for more funds to protect safety at work

The union representing inspectors, scientists and other professionals in the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has welcomed the call for more resources to be made available to safeguard UK workers, contained in the latest report from the Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee.

On behalf of 1,750 members in HSE, Prospect is delighted that today’s report has backed its call for more inspectors and recognised that they play a vital frontline public service role.

In particular, it has welcomed the committee’s findings that the number of inspectors in the Field Operations Division should be doubled, that substantial additional resources should be provided for HSE and the most effective means of maintaining safety requires enforcement and more workplace inspections.

Stephen Kay, chair of Prospect’s HSE branch, said: "We have been arguing for an increase in frontline inspectors for several years, particularly following the 2002 spending review which slashed the funds available for workplace inspections.

"Our members have very real concerns over the penny-pinching measures introduced to address the funding crisis in HSE, such as the use of unqualified staff to undertake workplace inspections and a reduction in the type of accidents that would trigger an investigation."

Measures introduced earlier this year mean that a worker could have a serious machinery accident resulting in severe lacerations or a broken limb, or suffer serious burns and still not trigger an investigation by an HSE inspector.

Kay called on Andrew Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, to implement the MPs demands "as soon as possible." Government funds for HSE have been frozen in real terms and stand at approximately £208m.

"We wholeheartedly back the recommendations that HSE should not proceed with its proposals to shift resources from inspection and enforcement to fund an increase in education, information and advice," he added. "Evidence shows it is inspection backed by enforcement that is the most effective way of ensuring duty-holders comply with their health and safety responsibilities."

Other recommendations in the report that have been welcomed by Prospect include the call for a bill on corporate killing to be published by December 2004 and increased measures to empower health and safety representatives to enforce the law in their workplaces.