A report from Stirling’s Professor of Occupational Health Policy Research, Rory O’Neill, “Low life: How the government has put a low price on your life“, has revealed that many of the UK’s most dangerous workplace sectors, such as agriculture, quarries, plastics, transport, electricity generation and many heavy industry sectors, acknowledged to be high risk, have been excluded from randomly conducted preventive inspections by HSE, the UK safety watchdog.
The majority of workplace fatalities occur in industry specific sectors which the safety regulator have decided to exclude from unannounced safety inspections.
Professor O’Neill has published a consolidated list of industries revealed by FOI requests to be immune from such inspections. Health and Safety campaigners have been lodging repeated FOI requests and making enquiries of HSE, demanding a rationale and supporting evidence for their decision to exempt lethal industries from proactive health and safety policing.
However no satisfactory response has been forthcoming from the Safety Regulator. Indeed some of the higher risk sectors such as agriculture and transport, have been explicitly acknowledged by HSE to be among the most deadly sectors. Yet they are listed on the ‘no inspection’ policy list.
The question remains as to why the Government has instructed the HSE to curtail both their proactive and reactive safety inspection programs. The Government directive is found in a paper released in September last year titled Good Health and Safety, Good For Everyone.
It appears that the ‘no inspection’ policy and other reforms foreshadowed by the Government are aimed at reducing what are characterised as ‘unnecessary’ regulatory burdens and red tape for businesses, in favour of a light touch regulatory regime which relies to a great extent on voluntary compliance by businesses.