Coalition government does not take health and safety seriously says Unite

The health and safety of Britain's workforce is not being taken seriously by

the coalition government, Unite, the largest union in the country, said


Unite Joint General Secretary, Tony Woodley, accused the former Thatcherite

Cabinet Minister, Lord Young, who headed the review, of being 'offensive'

after reported remarks trivialising the need for health and safety in the


Lord Young was quoted in The Times as saying "people occasionally get

killed, it's unfortunate but it's part of life" and "do you know anything

dangerous in offices?"

Unite also believes that the views of interested parties, such as trade

unions, were undermined due to the fact that the consultation period for the

review lasted only three weeks, compared to the normal 8-12 weeks.

Tony Woodley said: 'I welcome a genuine review of the impact of health and

safety legislation in the workplace, and particularly a review that

considers the widespread failure of employers to conduct workplace risk

assessments; the lack of effective investigation of workplace accidents,

incidents and causes of ill-health; and a widespread failure by employers to

report injuries and diseases and dangerous occurrences.'

'Regrettably the remarks reported in the press from Lord Young are deeply

hurtful and offensive, particularly to the families of those killed at work.'

'This has sent out completely the wrong message from the government.

Regrettably this suggests to us that the government is not giving this

review the weight that is urgently required.'

Unite is calling for a 10-point action plan:

• improve the enforcement of existing health and safety duties on employers

• ensure that the Health and Safety Executive and local authorities are

given adequate funding to enforce health and safety law

• re-affirm that health and safety laws apply to all workplaces and to all

workers and are enforced accordingly

• ensure that official health and safety statistics fully reflect the

incidence of occupational injuries and ill-health

• concentrate more on internal health and safety improvements at workplaces,

rather than issues relating to external consultants

• lead to the enforcement of union safety representatives' rights

• recognise and use union safety representatives as a driving force behind

the improvement of workplace health and safety

• legislate to place explicit health and safety duties on company directors

and their equivalents

• introduce new laws to require the early release of basic health and safety

information after a death at work

• put a stop to the trivialisation by the tabloid press and others of health

and safety law and its enforcement and the so-called "compensation culture".