No matter what kind of business you operate or what industry you're in, you need to know that you're running your company in accordance with health and safety guidelines so as to ensure the protection of your members of staff and visitors coming to your site.
Interestingly, however, it seems as though there may be many companies out there that aren't perhaps operating as safely as they should be, given new research from the TUC revealing that 46 per cent of workplaces have never had a health and safety inspection, which includes over 80 per cent of construction workplaces. Overall, just 24 per cent of health and safety representatives in UK businesses said they were aware that an inspection had taken place in the last 12 months.
Manufacturing was found to be the only sector where the majority of safety reps - 57 per cent - said an inspection had been carried out in the last year. And perhaps most worryingly, in the hazardous construction industry just 17 per cent of reps said an inspection had been done... despite the fact that there were 67,000 work-related illnesses and 65,000 injuries seen in the sector in 2015.
Frances O'Grady, TUC general secretary, said: "It's deeply worrying that nearly half of health and safety reps say their workplace has never been inspected by the [Health and Safety Executive]. And I am appalled that 80 per cent of reps in construction say their workplaces haven't been inspected.
“Construction workplaces can be some of the most dangerous places to work. Huge cuts to the HSE and to local authorities continue to undermine vital safety protections at work. That means more workers at risk of accidents in unsafe workplaces every day. It's time to fund the HSE properly and make sure bosses know that they can't get away with chancing workers' lives in dangerous workplaces."
The TUC went on to note that by 2019/2020, government funding for the HSE will have been cut almost by half, with local councils forced to reduce workplace inspections by 97 per cent in recent times. Furthermore, the government has also restricted the ability of employees to claim compensation following an illness or injury at work that has resulted through employer negligence.
Earlier this month, the TUC also suggested that the contribution of EU regulations where health and safety is concerned in the UK has been substantial over the years, although improvements have been more limited than in the past. Being part of the EU has meant that wide-ranging protections for UK workers have been delivered and now that Brexit has taken place, it's even more important that the UK government be more actively engaged in creating an improved package of measures intended to tackle the burden of work-related illnesses that are experienced both in this country and in the EU as a whole.
It is certainly possible that the consequences of Brexit could see a reduction in spending on health and wellbeing if the UK experiences a downturn in the economy, while it's also a possibility that health and safety legislation could be amended or seriously watered down in the future. Of course, it remains to be seen what happens in this respect since Theresa May is yet to invoke Article 50 and at the moment, the UK is still part of the EU and will be for the next two years at least.
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