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Ucatt blasts Government after safety repor t snub

Union unhappy after ministers reject proposals to double the number of health and safety inspectors

CONSTRUCTION union Ucatt has slammed the Government after it threw out proposals from MPs to pump more resources into the Health and Safety Executive.

The House of Commons Work and Pensions select committee had recommended legislation to impose safety duties upon directors and a doubling of the number of HSE inspectors at a cost of £48 million.

But the Government rejected these calls in its response to the report last week.

Ucatt general secretary Alan Ritchie said: 'We are disappointed. I shall do all I can to pressure ministers to change their minds.

'The HSE needs more inspectors, the construction industry needs more inspections, investigations, and tougher enforcement and building workers and their families need the Government to make directors directly responsible when negligence leads to death and injury.'

The Government said: 'There is no evidence that a blanket doubling of inspectors would be the most effective way to improvements in health and safety.'

It added that there was 'already an appropriate balance of legislative and voluntary responsibilities' on directors.

Labour MP Michael Clapham is planning to table an early day motion in parliament protesting at the Government's response.

Stephen Kay, chair of union Prospect's HSE branch, said: 'The Government's refusal to back the call for proper resources for inspection and accident investigation ignores the stack of evidence that enforcing the law is the most effective motivator for business to improve health and safety standards.'

David Bergman, director of the Centre for Corporate Accountability, added: 'Research evidence shows that the main impetus behind directors taking safety seriously is law and its enforcement and, in particular, their own liability.'

But the Government did suggest it was ready to consider health and safety records when letting contracts.

It said: 'We believe that procurement is an effective route through which to improve health and safety standards and have asked a Ministerial Task Force to implement this recommendation.'

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