We heard from the BBC yesterday:
Asked if there was a link between employment practices in Leicester and the outbreak there, Mr Hancock described guidance for employers as “statutory guidance” backed up by fines. “There are clearly some problems that have been under the radar in Leicester that need action,” he told the BBC.
Neither Hancock nor the BBC thought to tell us how good the ‘radar’ is. How many health and safety workplace inspectors and inspections are there? In a 2016 report, Professor Steve Tombs of the Open University writes:
What we find here is in fact a virtual collapse of enforcement capacity. In some local authorities there are now no dedicated health and safety inspectors – even, for example, in a city the size of Liverpool where in
2010 there had been four such inspectors. In general, health and safety regulatory bodies are haemorrhaging staff, and particularly experienced staff. They are under pressure not to take enforcement action, are demoralised even while being aware that worker and public protection is at risk.
[O]n the basis of 18 000 inspections per annum, the “average” workplace can now expect to be inspected just once every 50 years.
Tombs report is presented as The degradation of labour inspection in the UK, but on examination seems to be only about England.
In 2014, the Jimmy Reid Foundation wrote:
This paper explores what is wrong with occupational health and safety in Scotland now, a subject reserved solely to Westminster, and the laws, policies and practices that could provide a better work environment in an independent Scotland in the future. Employers and workers, including
those most vulnerable workers not in trade unions, would benefit producing higher public health standards and increasing the prosperity of the country as a whole. If there is a No vote in the coming referendum, little or no evidence exists to indicate there will be any substantial halt to Great Britain’s decline of occupational health and safety (OHS) standards and enforcement run down by successive Westminster administrations over two decades.