Workplace safety still missing from British election and political radar

Several weeks after UK Prime Minister called a general election and several months since David Cameron spoke volubly about the importance of occupational safety and health, workplace safety is yet to get a mention in the British election campaigns.

Croner and LabourNet reports that Mick Holder of the Hazards Campaign,  said:

“While there isn’t anything positive for workplace health and safety activists in either the Labour or Tory manifestos, there is the worrying commitment to reduce regulation in the Tory one…..Given the Tory’s persistent and corrupt attacks on health and safety laws, including those in recent weeks, this must be an issue for those considering which way to vote in the forthcoming election.”

Holder also comments on the lack of personal accountability of company directors, an issue supposedly dealt with in Australia through new due diligence and officer obligations in the Work Health & Safety Act.

“Most disappointing is no commitment to place full legal duties for health and safety on all company directors as recommended by Rita Donaghy, author of the Government’s report on the appalling safety record of the construction industry, “One Death is Too Many.”

In a 20 April 2010 media release, Hazards Campaign provides an example of a company where, it believes, increased prosecutorial action should be taken.  The company, Biffa Waste Services was recently fined £280,000 over the death of a member of the public.  Hazards points out that the same company has had several work-related deaths since 2001:

  • “the death of Charlie Smith, run over by a mechanical shovel loader at Biffa’s Eversley Depot, Hampshire in 2006, for which they were fined £190,000.00.
  • the death of employee Ronald Trow who was crushed by the tailgate of a lorry at their Walsall landfill site in 2001 for which they were fined £30,000.00.
  • the death of eleven year old Gavin Reed who fell at Houghton Quarry landfill in October 200 for which Biffa was fined £2,000.00.”

No mention of the previous offences is made in the HSE media release.

Kevin Jones

reservoir, victoria, australia

One thought on “Workplace safety still missing from British election and political radar”

  1. Just proves my point and position on matters relating to \”coal face\” enforcement of OHSW law – very substantial, no exception, on the spot fines is about the best starting point and it should be ramped up from there to cost those that own the enterprises out of there own pockets – This all presupposes that the enterprise is not complying in the main and making obvious and good attempt at complying would have some mitigating role, but only on appeal to an entirely independent court of high standing and after payment of any fines imposed.

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