Only one in 170 fatalities and major
injuries at work resulted in prosecution
in 2010/11 and only one in 65 results
in any enforcement action – down
by 30%", UNISON's Hazel Marshall
told the STUC backing a UCATT motion
to strengthen health and safety enforcement.
"As enforcement goes down, accidents
and fatalities go up", noted the motion
as it called on the STUC to intensify
education and resistence to the ConDems'
health and safety cuts agenda - and lobby
the Scottish Government to support a
more robust devolved health and safety
legislation agenda, like the new Bill
reforming on Fatal Accident Inquiry law.
The motion slammed the increase in fatalities
is Scotland from 14 to 20 in the previous
Hazel noted that 200 years after Richard
Oaster, the first factory inspector,
met opposition from government and employers,
"some things haven’t changed
much, we have a government hell bent
on reducing HSE inspections and inspectors.
"Reversing the progress gained
throughout the years from those early
beginnings by stripping back legislation.
"Some, especially smaller Employers,
are misled by the negative and false
representation by politicians & the
media’s portrayal of Health & safety,
with fears of litigation which contributes
to the misunderstanding of the REAL Legal
"It is important to empower employees
and employers of their ACTUAL legal rights & responsibilities
and for Unions at local level to use
our rights in law by carrying out regular
Work Place Inspections to prevent the
denigration of Health & Safety laws
that have taken all these years to attain."
Part of Hazel's job is to collate accident
and incident forms in her council. "But
alongside that I am a UNISON Steward
and it’s clear that there are many
accidents /incidents not being reported,
not because of the lack of policies -
we have plenty of them.
"In some cases it’s a lack
of proper training of line managers and
staff on how to go about reporting or
even what should be reported. So when
we talk about statistics we can only
guess as to the real numbers involved."
More robust health and safety law enforcement
is 'absolutely necessary', said Hazel.
"If the prosecution of Employers is
a real possibility then the threat of
financial penalties and jail terms will
make some business’s think twice
about flouting the law.
"We must remember that we CAN be a powerful
collective that we can send out a rallying
call, to support & agitate for a
robust enforcement system to provide
a forceful fight against the government
changes, this we must to do. People's
lives depend on this!"
16 April 2013