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HSE inspections help ensure worker safety

A recent study from Stirling University has highlighted the importance of unannounced HSE inspections to workplace safety.

Study author, and Professor of Occupational Health Policy Research, Rory O’Neill, said: “Whether your job is making people better or making plastics, don’t expect a government safety inspector to call. The majority of workplace deaths now occur in sectors officially excused from unannounced inspections by the safety regulator.

“On UK government orders the HSE has designated most industrial sectors, from farms to footwear, either too safe for them to bother, or just not worth the effort even if they are shockingly dangerous.”

According to the report, around 37 sectors are now exempt from these inspections, including higher risk sectors such as agriculture and quarries.

“Britain’s biggest employer, the health service, is also out-of-bounds,” commented Professor O’Neill. “But the country’s 1.4million health workers can be confronted by many of the safety risks encountered in heavy industry, as well as all manner of potentially terminal health risks from blood borne diseases to carcinogenic, cytotoxic and other drugs.”

The study shows that since these exemptions came into force, over half of the fatalities in workplaces covered by the HSE have happened in sectors no longer included in the unannounced inspection programme.

“The current government strategy is making life easier for irresponsible businesses but risks making it just a bit shorter for the rest of us,” said Professor O’Neill.

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