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The Government is offering “superficial” support for health and safety, claims shadow employment minister


The coalition is in “real danger of taking a wrong turn” on health and safety, according to the shadow minister of state for employment, Stephen Timms.

Speaking yesterday at the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) 2013 conference at London's Excel centre, Timms said the current Government "appears to be willing to undermine" the achievements carried out by many employers in the field of health and safety.

He pointed to statistics that "173 workers were fatally injured last year" and "workplace injuries and ill health cost society £30.4 billion in 2010/2011."

Timms opened his speech praising the health and safety profession in making the London 2012 the safest Olympic and Paralympic games ever. He said: "Good health and safety is vital for wellbeing of employees and is also vital for business.

"We support rigorous health and safety standards applied with commonsense, what we don't want is our achievements and standards to be put at risk."

He alluded to the Coalition Government's deregulatory agenda and what he described as a "superficial" acceptance of many of Prof Lofstedt's recommendations.

Timms added: "While the Labour Party was particularly worried about the thrust of Lord Young's review we very much welcomed Prof Lofstedt's report.

"We agreed with his conclusion that there is no need to radically change or reduce legislation, and that those who create the risks are best placed to address them.

"The Government, in its response, said it supported his recommendations but the worry is that this support is only superficial."

Also speaking at the event was chair of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Judith Hackitt who said that too many companies put health and safety as their "top-priority" and it needs to be a "core value" for all businesses.

She said: "The problem with priorities is they change and health and safety must remain a core value in all businesses.' But she added: "Whether it has to become a top-priority in its own right, I would question."