MPs say more could be done to promote health and safety

While new legislation such as the Health and Safety Offences Act has toughened up health and safety laws, more could be done to improve the health and safety sanctions and controls, according to an influential group of MPs.

A report on workplace health and safety by the House of Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee has concluded that board-level commitment to health and safety remains weak in the UK.

MPs backed the conclusions of Rita Donaghy that there needed to be new duties on directors and added that, if voluntary guidance did not work, the government should step in and legislate to ensure company directors take full responsibility for their employees’ safety. Employees need to feel more able to whistle-blow on unsafe practices without fearing for their jobs, she said.

“Increasing worker involvement is an investment that will reap its own rewards, but to achieve this, the Health and Safety Executive must invest in worker involvement schemes and employees must feel free to report their health and safety concerns,” the committee said.

Committee chairman Terry Rooney said: “Employers need to understand their duties and, where they breach them, they must be held to account. Employees also need to be aware of their role in creating a safe work environment and they should be involved through worker engagement schemes, not prevented through fear of blacklisting.”

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