Sunday, 18 May 2014

Katy speaks up for health and safety

Katy Clark MP has criticised the UK Government’s plans to ‘dilute’ health and safety laws.

The local MP spoke out during debates in the House of Commons on the Deregulation Bill, which contains provisions that would reduce health and safety laws covering self-employed workers. Ms Clark highlighted that fatality rates among self-employed workers are higher than those relating to staff directly employed by companies.

Katy Clark said, “In autumn 2012 the Health and Safety Executive consulted on exempting some of the self-employed from health and safety provisions. The majority of those who responded to that consultation - including a majority of the self-employed - opposed the proposal.

“At the moment, all self-employed people have a legal duty to ensure they protect others from harm resulting from their work. The strength of the health and safety legislation in the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 is its simplicity, and the fact that the test and legal obligation involved is simple and applies to everybody. One problem with other areas of employment protection is that it is often an employee who may receive some form of right or entitlement, rather than workers in general, which means that many people try to avoid obligations by using devices such as zero-hours contracts. The fact the Government are proceeding down such a path for health and safety is a negative development that I believe we will all regret in years to come.”

The Labour MP points out the high fatality rates amongst the self-employed - 1.1 person per 100,000 compared with 0.4 for employed workers – adding, “In part, that might be because self-employed people are more likely to be found in more dangerous occupations. However, the statistics on people with the same occupation show that self-employed people seem to have higher fatality rates.

“We know that the problem of deaths and illnesses associated with work is extremely significant. Worldwide, 2.3 million die as a result of incidents at work every year. The health and safety magazine, ‘Hazards’, estimates that in Britain work kills 1,400 people each year, and that 50,000 die in work-related incidents.”

The MP for North Ayrshire & Arran believes health and safety legislation is “far from red tape”, noting, “It has saved probably thousands of lives since it came into effect in 1974. The fact that the Government are trying yet again to take away that protection for the self-employed is bad for Britain.”

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