Following Chancellor George Osborne’s spending review announcement this week, the Department for Work and Pensions revealed that the HSE’s budget will be cut 35 percent by 2015.
UCATT general secretary Alan Ritchie said: “Any cuts in frontline services will inevitably lead to a greater number of workers being killed or injured at work. Sadly, the risks are greatest in safety critical industries such as construction.”
The government’s decision to cut spending on the HSE comes less than a week after Lord Young released his report into Health and Safety in which he recommended no changes to safety laws in high risk industries such as construction.
Ritchie added: “UCATT will be seeking assurances from the HSE that there will be no cuts in the level of frontline construction inspectors and that there will not be changes in the manner that safety laws are applied to construction.
Construction workers could face extreme dangers when the construction industry recovers. Inexperienced employers could place them in danger. Now there is the genuine possibility that the HSE, whose role it is to ensure workers’ safety, will be denied the resources to perform their role properly.”
In 2009/10 there were 41 construction deaths. The number of fatalities has decreased in recent years due to the economic downturn, resulting in fewer people working in the industry and a reduction in work pressures, which is a major factor in accidents. The HSE’s latest fatality figures reveal that seven construction workers were killed in August alone.