Rise in fatalities prompts call to stop HSE cuts


Rise in fatalities prompts call to stop HSE cuts

The union representing staff in the Health and Safety Executive has called on the Government to rethink plans to cut the safety body’s budget by 35 per cent after figures released show a leap in workplace fatalities over the last year.

The call from Prospect comes after HSE released official statistics for April 2010 to March 2011 that show the number of workers killed in Britain was 171, an increase of one sixth on last year’s record of 147 fatalities.

On behalf of over 1,650 HSE inspectors and other specialists, Prospect negotiator Mike Macdonald said: “In a civilised society it is reasonable to expect people to return home unharmed after a day’s work. The increase revealed by these figures is even more alarming given that economic output has remained stagnant over the past 12 months. We fear that as the economy recovers and the workforce grows the number of workplace deaths and serious accident rates will rise even further.

“Not only does HSE’s work save lives and reduce the misery felt by friends and family following the death of a loved one, it saves industry and the taxpayer hundreds of millions of pounds in lost working days and medical bills. Therefore we have to question how appropriate it is for the Government to make cuts of 35 per cent which will result in fewer frontline inspectors.”

Macdonald said members were particularly concerned by the withdrawal of up to 11,000 “proactive inspections” normally undertaken by HSE but axed in a bid to meet budgetary restrictions.

“Agriculture is one of the key areas to see a withdrawal of proactive inspection despite the excessive number of fatal injuries. Enforcement and the prosecution of people who break health and safety law is important – but so is HSE’s intervention to reduce the risks of hazardous situations in the first place.”