Health and safety inspections will focus on “high-risk” industries including construction, waste and recycling, and some areas of manufacturing under plans announced by the Government to cut bureaucracy and boost business.
Inspectors working for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and local authorities have been told to reduce the number of inspections they carry out by at least a third, ending automatic inspections at so-called “low” and “medium” risk workplaces such as those in the transport, light engineering, education and clothing manufacturing sectors.
In addition, proactive inspections will not take place in some high-risk areas such as agriculture, quarries and health and social care, as the Government says “proactive inspection is unlikely to be effective”.
The plans were announced as part of a package of changes to the UK’s health and safety system, which include a new Occupational Safety and Health Consultants Register, an independent review of health and safety laws and new resources for employers which aim to offer clearer advice on legal responsibilities. In addition, businesses found guilty of putting workers or the public at risk will be forced to pay the cost of HSE investigations.
The mothers of two teenagers who died from carbon monoxide poisoning have made a film with RoSPA to raise awareness of the risks and how to reduce them.
Catherine McFerran and Katrina Davidson lost their 18-year-old sons Neil and Aaron during a weekend away at a holiday flat in Northern Ireland last summer. The teenagers died from carbon monoxide poisoning from a faulty liquid petroleum gas appliance found at the flat.
The film tells the story of what happened to Neil and Aaron and offers practical advice on how to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Carbon monoxide results from the burning of gas and other fuels, including wood, coal and oil and is known as the “silent killer” because it cannot be seen, heard, smelt or tasted. It can build up to dangerous levels if a fuel-burning appliance is incorrectly fitted, badly repaired or poorly maintained, or if flues, chimneys or vents are blocked.
Katrina Davidson said: “After the tragic loss of our sons Aaron and Neil we want to do all we can to ensure no other family has to go through what we are going through."
Watch the film at: www.rospa.com/homesafety/aroundtheuk/northern-ireland/carbonmonoxide
More information on carbon monoxide is available at: www.rospa.com/homesafety/adviceandinformation/carbonmonoxide
17% of employers say that they have taken on interns to get work done cheaply, according to a survey carried out by YouGov on behalf of campaign group Internocracy. 52% said that the main reason companies take on interns is to identify potential new talent for their organisation.
A quarter of a million people are estimated to be working in internships in the UK, with the vast majority unpaid. The Internocracy study found that only 10% of young people and 12% of managers knew that unpaid internships could be illegal.
Tanya de Grunwald, who runs the Graduate Fog careers advice website, said: “Many managers continue to hide wimpishly behind the defence that they are offering these opportunities out of the goodness of their hearts, in order to give young people the chance to gain some experience.
“We need to move away from this bogus idea. What these companies are doing is taking their labour without paying for it. [Interns] are not just making the tea and distributing the post – they are doing real jobs and they deserve to be paid.”
The International Transport Workers' Federation has launched a new young workers’ blog.
The revamped blog enables young workers across the world to give their views on problems they face in the workplace and access advice and information on issues such as wages, rights and job security. It also includes news, updates, links and photos.
Access the blog at: www.itfglobal.org/youngworkersblog
HSE has released a series of case studies looking at the dangers faced by young people on farms.
Agriculture has one of the highest fatal accident rates of any industry in the UK and according to HSE, is also the only high-risk industry that has to deal with the constant presence of children, as farms are homes as well as workplaces. In addition, visitors to the countryside, including young people, may often be on farms while work is being carried out.
The case studies look at subjects such as machinery, training, supervision and unsecured heavy objects, with cases including a 16 year-old boy who had to have his leg amputated after slipping while trying to climb onto a tractor, and a 14-year-old on work experience who was killed when the all-terrain vehicle (ATV) he was driving overturned.
The information on accidents and prosecutions featured in this section comes from a number of different sources including the Health and Safety Executive and regional and national newspapers.
"Of course it is right to protect employees in the workplace, but Britain’s health and safety culture is also stifling business and holding back economic growth. The purpose of health and safety regulation is to protect people at work and rightly so. But we need common sense at the heart of the system, and these measures will help root out the needless burden of bureaucracy.
"This will help us make Britain a more growth focused, entrepreneurial nation. By reducing unnecessary red tape we can encourage businesses to come and invest in the UK, creating jobs and opportunities when we need them most."
Employment Minister Chris Grayling
“None of our family members was killed by red tape or employers fearing enforcement. They were killed because of the exact opposite – too little if any time spent on health and safety, and no fear of being found out. It now feels like we are living in Alice in Wonderland where cutting health and safety regulation and slashing the numbers of those who enforce it, is supposed to make everything magically better! How reducing requirements on employers and almost completely removing any credible threat that they might be inspected and found out by proactive inspections BEFORE they kill, maim, or make someone very ill, can improve what we know is a pitifully inadequate system, is completely beyond us.”
Linda Whelan from campaign group Families Against Corporate Killers
"Construction sites can be dangerous places to work. Because of inexperience, young people need special consideration to protect them from risks, particularly those present when working at height, which are well-known in the industry
Health and Safety Executive Inspector Medani Close