Health and safety gone mad?

This month's news headlines have been dominated by riots and financial turmoil in the international markets. Almost everywhere in the developed world appears to be on the brink of some sort of meltdown. And that's before the public sector cuts have even started to really bite.

Whatever industry you work in, there is a perception that when times get really tough, employers are tempted to cut corners to save on costs. Even before the Conservatives got into power, they were talking about cutting red tape. That's not say that the Coalition intends to slash regulations left, right and centre; only the ones that they see as being excessive.

However, if we are not careful, some regulations that are necessary to protect employees could be axed. We have all seen examples of health and safety gone mad, but it's no laughing joke when a worker gets crushed to death by a reversing vehicle and some poor soul has to inform the deceased's family.

The depressing truth is that the waste and recycling industry has a poor performance record in this area compared with other industry sectors, both in terms of fatal accidents and for other injury figures.

To add salt into the wounds, the Health and Safety Executive's latest figures on fatal accidents show that the number of workers killed in the waste and recycling industry for the year April 2010 to March 2011 sharply increased. Nine workers died; a tripling on the previous year.

This could well be a blip in the general trend but even one death is one too many. The industry faces tough times ahead but that's no excuse for taking one's eye off the ball. Health and safety should never be compromised to protect profits.

Much has been achieved in this country over the decades to improve health and safety standards and protect lives. This is not the time to start putting those lives at risk.

Nick Warburton

Topics: edie
Tags: | cuts
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