Workplace Deaths: Scotland

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:00 pm on 24th July 2019.

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Photo of Hugh Gaffney Hugh Gaffney Labour, Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill 4:00 pm, 24th July 2019

Yes. I thank my hon. Friend for making that point. Trade unions have a vital role in health and safety in the workplace. We have health and safety reps, and any worker joining any place of work should join a trade union. Trade unions are not just there for pay; they are there for the protection of workers.

That brings me to enforcement and oversight. The TUC estimates that the HSE’s budget has reduced by more than 40% since 2010. That means it has £100 million less in its budget this year, which undoubtedly impacts its ability to enforce and oversee health and safety in workplaces across the UK. Concerns have been raised by groups such as Families Against Corporate Killers that those cuts to the HSE have already hampered its ability to undertake health and safety inspections.

Ahead of today’s debate I spoke to Scottish Hazards, which has researched staffing levels in the HSE. It estimates that the HSE lost more than 1,000 staff between 2010 and 2018. That means we have lost inspectors and other specialists capable of enforcing and overseeing health and safety in the workplace.