Safety Report Ducks The Real Issues Says TUC

4 Dec 2011

The TUC has welcomed the Lofstedt report’s conclusion that the UK’s health and safety laws ‘are broadly right’, but it says it has major concerns that the proposals to exempt some self-employed workers could have a ‘devastating impact’ on their safety.

The union body is also disappointed that the report makes no suggestions as to how the protection of employees in the workplace could be improved. Commenting on conclusions of the government-commissioned report, TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said ‘Professor Lofstedt was only asked to look at the ‘burden’ on business, not the burden that the failings in the current system have placed on the two million people whose health has been made worse because of their work. Nor has it considered the more than 20,000 people whose lives are cut short every year as a result of a preventable work-related injury or illness. Because of this, not one life will be saved as a result and not one injury or illness prevented. This is very much a missed opportunity.’

The union leader also expressed concern at the proposal to remove up to one million self-employed workers from the protection of current safety laws. ‘These people, who often work in the most dangerous of jobs, are already much more likely to be killed or injured. There is little doubt that removing the self-employed from the regulations will increase their risk of illness and injury and lead to a rise in the number of bogus self-employed in sectors like construction,’ he said. ‘While we welcome comments in the report on the need to address the major occupational health problems in the UK and to support union safety representatives, it is regrettable that no recommendations have been made on how to go about doing this. It is time the government stopped tinkering around with regulations to save business from non-existent ‘red-tape’ and instead started looking at what positive steps it could take to improve Britain’s health and safety record.’