The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is lacking the cash and staff to do its job properly, according to a report by a group of MPs.
The Work and Pensions select committee said an under-resourced HSE had a negative impact on employer compliance with health and safety and the level of accidents.
The MPs also said the level of fines for health and safety offences were too low and not enough of a deterrent, and over-zealous consultants were taking advantage of employers’ safety fears.
The report made the case for the HSE to increase its levels of inspection, requiring an increase in front-line inspectors. A business is now likely to face an inspection visit only once every 14.5 years.
Bud Hudspith, national health and safety officer at the Unite union, said: “A toothless HSE has been starved of resources and the power to penalise those who disregard the safety of workers and the public. The HSE needs more inspectors but there must also be a step-change in enforcement with legally binding health and safety duties on company directors and senior managers.”
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “The theme that runs through the report is that the HSE is being asked to do too much with too little. The government needs to address the very serious resource issues that this report raises.”
MPs also warned that a planned relocation to Merseyside could lead to a loss of experienced HSE staff.
The Public and Commercial Services Union called on HSE bosses to “think again” about the proposals to move jobs out of London.