Labour Research January 2018

Health & Safety Matters

Government has nothing new to say

TUC head of health and safety Hugh Robertson has described as “very disappointing” a government paper outlining the action it will take following the 2016 Improving lives consultation on work, health and disability (see Labour Research, December 2016, page 25). 

He called it “a rehash of existing policies” with “a few general promises and virtually no practical concrete proposals”.

Writing on the Stronger Unions blog, Robertson says that only one in eight UK workers have access to an occupational health doctor and two million people are suffering from a work-related condition. But the paper shows the government “still has not got a clue what to do” on occupational health provision. 

The Fit for Work service, which aimed to help employers access occupational health services, will close after less than three years of operation. 

In addition, the government fails to tackle presenteeism, has no new proposals on preventing work from making people ill, and has little practical to offer on improving access to rehabilitation and support.

“Clearly the response is, to say the least, very disappointing, and does not really address any of the practical problems around occupational health provision or access to rehabilitation,” says Robertson. 

“That is because the actual way to improve lives is one that they simply will not contemplate. To stop work making people ill we need better, safer jobs that give us good working conditions, decent pay, security and respect.”