Call for Health and Safety Tsar to be appointed

Mon 20 Sep, 2010

The Trades Union Congress have called on the Government to appoint a health and safety "tsar" after new research revealed that more than 20,000 people are killed prematurely by their work every year.

The TUC has described the research as smashing the "myth" that Britain is one of the safest countries in the world in which to work. It is not just accidents that kill people at work, many are dying through conditions such as occupational cancers and lung disorders, exposure to fumes and chemicals, and traffic accidents.

The report, The Case for Health and Safety, also claimed that many workplace accidents are not reported.

The TUC claim that about 1.2 million people believe that they are suffering from heart disease, stress, back and shoulder pains or depression because of their work.

The move by the TUC comes at the same time as business bodies are lobbying for a reduction in safety legislation.

TUC General secretary Brendan Barber is reported by the Press Association as saying:

"Despite the way that health and safety is often pilloried, for those who are made ill or injured at work and for the relatives of those who have died as a result of their work, health and safety is no joke.

"Regulation works, as long as it is enforced, and it saves lives and prevents the contraction of unnecessary illnesses. That is why the UK continues to need strong regulation and enforcement.

"Every one of the 20,000 annual workplace-related deaths could have been prevented and if the level of Health and Safety Executive and local authority funding is cut, the effects will be even more catastrophic.

"Fatalities are not just statistics - they are real people, with lives and families - and any fall in inspections and enforcement will lead to an increase in accidents, injuries and deaths, and will have a huge impact on the already grave problem of workplace diseases."

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