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No compromises on health and safety under the guise of cutting bureaucracy, says Unite

21 March 2011

There can be no compromises on health & safety in the workforce introduced under the camouflage of ‘cutting bureaucracy’, Unite has said. Unite was commenting as Employment minister, Chris Grayling unveiled proposals which could mean that inspections in Britain’s workplaces could be slashed by 11,000 annually, with future automatic practice inspections targeted on high risk sites, such as the nuclear and chemical industries.

Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey said: ‘Cutting bureaucracy is the continuing mantra of this coalition, but it could be dangerous rhetoric if it translates into fewer inspections and a subsequent rise in deaths and injuries in factories, on construction sites, on farms and in workplaces across the UK.’
‘Health and safety regulations have been developed over decades with the purpose of protecting the 29 million people currently at work in the UK – there can be no compromises on this. Using the argument of ‘cutting bureaucracy’ should not be used as camouflage for compromising on safety.’ 
‘An economic downturn is not the time to cut corners on health and safety.  People worried for their jobs must not become worried about the safety at work too.  Britain led the world in health and safety legislation- right back to the 1802 Factories Act.’
‘While there continues to be needless injury and deaths in UK workplaces, we must not dilute these laws in any way.'
‘Unite has members in manufacturing industries that can be dangerous and where good health and safety practice is essential, including heavy industries such as construction, foundries, steel, papermaking, newspaper and magazine printing, offshore oil, and refineries. We also have many members working in small companies, where some companies can cut corners and put members at risk.’ 
‘We want to hear more about how government intends to enforce the laws we do have - nothing keeps a rogue employer in line more than the fear of a knock at the door from a health and safety inspector and an appearance in court with all the bad publicity that generates.’  

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