Academic concern over safety of UK workplaces [Herald, The (Scotland)]
(Herald, The (Scotland) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) As researchers on occupational health and safety, we note with concern the withdrawal by the UK Government of routine inspections in the majority of workplaces. We are also concerned about the undermining of health and safety law enforcement by government. We further note that the Department of Work and Pensions web page on business and enterprise and regulation reform continues in 2013 to make the following statements on the subject:
l The Government asserts that the "burden of excessive health and safety rules and regulations on business has become too great". There is no substantial and rigorous evidence to support this statement.
l The Government further states that a "damaging compensation culture is stifling innovation and growth". There is no evidence at all that supports this statement with regard to occupational health and safety. Indeed, influential studies in North America and elsewhere indicate that effective health and safety standards and controls can stimulate innovation and growth.
The Government will best protect people in workplaces by effective regulation and enforcement, yet the decline in funding for regulators is happening at a time when the UK is still faced with enormous burdens of work-related ill health as well as major injuries due to failures in workplace safety measures.
Recently the Government has been taken to task for making false or inaccurate statements with regard to UK economic statistics. Similar lies and distortions are now emerging with regard to occupational health and safety and should be withdrawn. This is because nearly all occupational disease victims go uncompensated and, far from being a burden, properly enforced regulation is good for the workforce, good for the economy and favours the responsible businesses over the corner-cutting rogues.
Professor Andrew Watterson and seven colleagues,
Occupational and Environmental Health Research Group,
RG Bomont Building,
University of Stirling.
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