Intended for healthcare professionals


Threats to health and safety in the workplace in Britain

BMJ 1994; 308 doi: (Published 30 April 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;308:1115
  1. Andrew Watterson

    Time for doctors to speak up

    The Health of the Nation paid scant attention to occupational health but noted that better working conditions had contributed to better health.1 The government is now, however, pursuing a strategy hostile to improvements in working conditions.

    The strategy has taken three forms. Firstly, the chancellor has cut the budgets of the Health and Safety Commission and Health and Safety Executive by 2.6% for 1994-5; this is double the cut imposed on public expenditure generally. This means that the Health and Safety Executive faces job losses and cuts in services.2 Secondly, the leadership of the Health and Safety Commission has changed: its new part time chairman, who apparently has no experience of occupational health and safety, works just three days a week, and one new commission member is a former member of parliament committed to privatisation.3 Thirdly, the ideology of deregulation is being promulgated by health and safety deregulation task groups and a Deregulation and Contracting Bill published early this year.4

    No one would object to deregulation as a way of removing out of date and superfluous regulations.5 6 Yet none of the documentation from government departments justifies substantial changes in health and safety controls and enforcement.6 Weaker laws on health and safety have been mooted, and certain groups of workers--especially construction workers and temporary workers--seem likely …

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