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Health and safety: an election issue?

British Safety Council seeks views of six key political parties on plans for health and safety, if elected

THE British Safety Council has written to six of the main political parties in advance of the general election on 7 May 2015 to find out more about their plans, if elected, for health and safety.

‘With less than two months until the general election, we wanted to hear from the parties ahead of the election what their plans and priorities are for ensuring that those at work are kept healthy and safe,’ said Neal Stone, acting chief executive of the British Safety Council.


‘We focused on six political parties, namely Conservative, Green, Labour, Liberal Democrat, SNP and UKIP. It is certain that one, or more, of these parties will be in government come 7 May. Their views on how they plan to help grow a sustainable economy, and the role that good health and safety will play in achieving that goal, are of vital importance to the British Safety Council, our member organizations and their employees.

‘We put three questions to them. The first concerned how health and safety is regulated, and, in particular, how each of the parties would support the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and local authorities, to ensure that risks are being adequately controlled. As budgets are tight and public spending on regulation and enforcement reduces, we want to hear from the parties what they will do to ensure regulators are adequately resourced, including their views on the HSE becoming more commercial.

‘We also sought views on the role and responsibility of employers to help address the nation’s health issues through workplace interventions. Health risks are always difficult to tackle and, in many ways, have been a second-order priority as we focused largely on the prevention of injuries at work.

‘However, our failure to effectively manage occupational health risks costing some £8 billion each year is a huge burden for the country. The workplace can be a very convenient place to convey important health messages, from occupational disease such as cancer, to obesity and the dangers of physical inactivity.

‘Finally, we wanted to hear each party’s ideas on how to we can incentivise employers to do more to invest in good health and safety. There are many innovations in the field of insurance and taxation, some already in operation in other countries, which could encourage sound investment to help prevent workplace injury and ill-health occurrences.

‘Getting businesses to invest in effective health and safety measures is critical. We know that investment in training and the proper maintenance of plant, equipment and machinery can help reduce lost time and maintain productivity, while saving the public purse billions spent by the NHS on healthcare.’

The British Safety Council is planning to publish the responses from the six political parties in the May 2015 edition of Safety Management.


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