Union warns of job losses at HSE

The drive to improve workplace safety will be hit by potential job losses at the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), a union has warned.

Last week the HSE announced measures to reduce staff numbers. Chief executive Geoffrey Podger advised staff that if the organisation is to remain within the budget allocated by the government, between 250 and 350 jobs will have to be shed by 2008.

However, Prospect, the union representing 1,750 scientists, inspectors and other professionals in the HSE, have slammed the news, claiming that 350 cuts may only be the beginning.

Prospect HSE branch chair Stephen Kay said: “While we welcome the commitment to try to achieve these losses through natural wastage and voluntary redundancies, any reduction in HSE staff numbers will inevitably impact on the drive to improve safety in UK workplaces.”

The HSE has insisted the cuts will not affect front-line staff monitoring hazardous industries such as offshore rigs and nuclear sites.

The announcement coincides with a report, published in the TUC-backed Hazards magazine, that says while the HSE is implementing a strategy to move away from hands-on workplace inspections, figures for fatalities and major injury rates across the UK are rising.

In 2001-2 the average frequency of workplace inspections was once every seven years. Figures for 2006 suggest this has risen to once in 13 years, the report shows.

About 220 people were killed at work in 2004-5, the same level as five years ago.

The union is calling for government intervention to help ease the financial pressures at the HSE.

Health and Sefety Executive



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