Trade union body the TUC has published a 10-point safety “manifesto” for workplaces.
The Time for change report has called for, among other things, more inspections, far greater control of carcinogens and a maximum temperature in the workplace.
Rather than relaxing health and safety laws as the Government was doing, it argued that what was needed was more of a focus on improving workplace safety to bring the UK more into line with its European competitors.
The report recommended all workplaces employing more than 10 people should have a union-affiliated safety rep.
It also argued that lower limits regarding dust in the workplace should be introduced and workers should no longer be exposed to cancer-causing substances at work – including the removal of carcinogens completely where possible. There should be a new upper limit for a maximum temperature at work of 30°C for employees working indoors or 27°C for those involved in strenuous work.
This should be accompanied by a new legal duty on employers to protect staff working outside in hot weather by providing them with sun protection and a ready supply of water, it added.
There should also be a new legal duty on company directors to set out their safety responsibilities and to help change boardroom attitudes towards the importance of health and safety.
Frances O’Grady, the TUC’s general secretary, said: “Unfortunately, ministers seem convinced that, despite the high number of deaths and injuries at work, safety regulations are too onerous on businesses and, rather than being tightened, need to be watered down or removed entirely. This is completely the wrong approach.”