Health & safety campaigning
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Health & safety campaigning
High profile safety campaigns are a key part of UCATT’s health and safety strategy:
UCATT stands shoulder to shoulder with members, defending their right to go to work in the morning and return home in the evening safe and healthy. In construction, safety should be the top priority, and it certainly is for UCATT.
Over the last 3 years, roughly one building worker has died each week on construction sites across the UK and this was during the sharpest downturn the industry has witnessed for more than a decade. Last year 2012/13 construction fatalities were at a record low, despite this the industry still managed to kill 39 workers. Despite accounting for only 5% of all employees in the UK, construction accounts for 30% of deaths.
This Tory led administration is hell bent on destroying any regulatory safeguards that exists. If Cameron and his cronies have declared “war against the excessive health and safety culture”, UCATT declares war against the laissez faire attitude of employers and Government to our members’ safety.
UCATT is at the cornerstone of campaigns to keep our members safe at work. From asbestos compensation to personal protective equipment, on site we’re working to support members. We’ve opposed the findings of the Lord Young Review Common Sense, Common Safety – a complete waste of time and money.
One of the recommendations was amending RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations). UCATT opposed the loosening of these regulations when we should in fact be looking at their greater enforcement. In the autumn of 2013 the RIDDOR reporting system was further downgraded as many serious injuries were no longer considered to be notifiable.
The Young Review was followed by a wide review of health and safety regulation by Professor Lofstedt, Reclaiming Health and Safety for All with a focus on reducing the “burden on business”. If ever the terminology told you what would be recommended then this was it - repeal and amendment of regulations - all changes for the benefit of employers. There was not one recommendation that would improve safety, reduce the burden of illness on workers or support union safety representatives in workplaces.
The Lofstedt Review has been used by the Conservative-led Government to make it far more difficult to claim compensation following an accident at work. No longer will a worker have to simply prove that an employer broke the Health and Safety Act but that they were also have to prove the employer was wilfully negligent.
The Lofstedt Report also recommended that self-employed workers who posed no risk to other should be removed from the health and Safety at Work Act. This measure is part of the Government’s Deregulation Bill. With over 40% of the construction industry officially self-employed this is very serious. Although self-employed construction workers won’t officially be affected by this the reality is that they will be told and led to believe that they are not protected by the Health and Safety at Work Act
Lofstedt also called for the revoking of the Tower Crane Register and Head Protection Regulations. Despite UCATT campaigning to keep these regulations they were both abolished in April 2013.
New CDM Regulations 2015 came into force on 6th April. These Regulations apply to all construction sites. UCATT reps should be aware of these regulations and ensure that their employer is adhering to the provisions contained therein. Furthermore, there is workers Guidance notes attached which UCATT helped produce. All Safety Representatives should read and make use of it in their workplace making sure their employer is engaging and consulting employees on Health and Safety.
In June 2013 UCATT led a lobby of Parliament against Government attacks on safety. The Save Our Safety lobby was highly successful. Hundreds of construction workers met with their MPs and were able to explain their concerns about safety in the industry and how the Government’s policies are endangering the lives of construction workers.
In September 2013 a UCATT motion calling for a major campaign to ensure that workers are made aware of the dangers of workplace diseases was overwhelmingly carried at the TUC Congress, TUC to focus support on workers with occupational diseases. Thousands of workers die every year due to workplace disease, most deaths are entirely preventable and construction workers are at a greater risk than any other group.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is facing a 35% cut in its budget – an estimated budget reduction of over £80m per year by 2014–2015. This is undermining the HSE’s authority and its ability to enforce safety culture. Under the Conservative-led government, enforcement has already fallen to an all-time low.
In construction, inspections now focus on sites with fewer than 15 workers, refurbishment projects and project where asbestos is present. Other projects are unlikely to be visited.
The outcome of this attack on the safety watchdog, dressed up as expenditure efficiencies, can only be more fatalities and injuries in the workplace, together with further rises in long-term industrial illness and diseases.
As a result of these cuts the HSE axed its Infoline service in 2011, it is now extremely difficult to contact the HSE by phone.
Guide: Blacklisting and public procurement
Our new guide seeks to assist UCATT members in lobbying to stop public contracts going to firms that have blacklisted workers and have not made up for it. Download the Blacklisting & Public Procurement Guide now.
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