Councils told to improve safety record

Council chief executives are being urged to improve health and safety
standards following the release of figures that show fatalities in local
authority workplaces have increased.

Bill Callaghan, chairman of the Health & Safety Commission, has written
to all local authorities calling for the chief executives to take a hands-on
interest in their safety record after research showed that staff deaths rose
from 32 to 44 during the period 1999 to 2000.

The research by the HSC also showed that safety inspections have dropped by
over a quarter in the past five years. The number of full-time local authority
enforcement officers also fell by 8 per cent to 1,110 between 1999 and 2000.

Callaghan said, "An effective local authority regulatory service,
committed to local improvements in health and safety from business is

The HSC is also considering if it should investigate those authorities that
continue to divert resources away from health and safety considerations.

Keith Handley, president of Socpo, said, "The responsibility for
employee health and safety is a key aspect for local authority employers and
they should ignore it at their peril.

"Reducing the numbers of health and safety officers may be considered a
‘soft option’, but it is an extremely misguided one."

The figures show there was a reduction in the number of overall reported
injuries from 39,655 to 32,693 between 1999 and 2000.

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