TUC report claims ‘Brexit’ could impact health and safety

A Trades Union Congress report suggests a ‘Brexit’ could result in increased worker injuries and accidents

A report published last week by the Trades Union Congress (TUC), claims that if the UK voted out of the European Union in the June referendum, health and safety in the workplace could be negatively impacted.

According to the report, titled ‘EU Membership and Health and Safety’, the EU’s legislation on UK health and safety regulations has helped reduce the number of injuries and accidents sustained in the workplace.

The report was published on April 28, also the International Workers’ Memorial Day, and was meant to highlight how the EU rules have positively affected health and safety within Britain.

The report states that between 1997 and 2009, the UK imposed 41 new health and safety laws which originated from EU legislation; in total, 65 new laws were introduced within those years. In addition, the report claims that EU rules helped reduce workplace fatalities from 368 in 1992 to 142 in 2015.

According to the Trades Union Congress, the health and safety legislation for the construction industry, for police officers and for the control of asbestos are just three of the major areas where EU regulations have had a significant affect.

If the British public vote to leave the EU, the UK government can choose to retain EU laws or dispose of them. The General Secretary of TUC, Frances O’Grady, said that the government has already showed signs of “its readiness to water down key health and safety rules”.

The suggestion that health and safety standards would slip in Britain if a ‘Brexit’ took place, is a contentious statement considering that the UK is held as a global model for effective health and safety in the workplace.

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Brothers given prison sentence after exposing workers to asbestos

Two brothers from Stoke-on-Trent who were lacking in construction and building work experience have been given prison sentences after exposing workers to asbestos.

Akram Hussain and Inam Hussain of Boughey Road, exposed at least seven workers to the deadly fibres during refurbishment work at a former print works on Scotia Road, Burslem. The work had been carried out since February 2012, with a 17 year old being one of the exposed workers.

Asbestos-DisposalStafford Crown Court heard that neither brothers were experienced in building and construction work; nor were they licensed to remove asbestos.

The Health and Safety Executive prosecuted the brothers after it was revealed that none of the necessary asbestos surveys were carried out and a Construction, Design and Management Co-ordinator (CDM) was not in place.

At least seven workers were exposed to asbestos in the building but many more could have been exposed over the course of the project.

Akram and Inam Hussain both pleaded guilty to breaching section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

HSE inspector Lindsay Hope said:

“The Hussains have shown a willful disregard for the health and safety of workers and others. Our investigation uncovered a catalogue of serious errors, safety failings and a disregard of the laws around the safe and correct removal of asbestos.

“This was an appalling case of failing to properly plan, manage and resource this project, which led to workers being exposed to risks to their health from asbestos.

“It is essential at the outset of a building refurbishment to first seek specialist advice regarding the possible presence of asbestos within that building. Only with the full knowledge of what is present, or not, can any asbestos then be dealt with safely.

“Failure to identify and deal with any asbestos can lead to it being damaged and people then breathing in the fibres. The Hussains failed in their duty by choosing to ignore the dangers of this hidden killer.”

Akram Hussain was given a custodial sentence of 22 weeks and ordered to pay fines of £43,000. Inam Hussain was given a custodial sentence of 14 weeks.