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Unite: Government trivialising health and safety

Britain’s biggest union Unite have accused the coalition government of trivialising the need for health and safety in the workplace.

Unite joint general secretary Tony Woodley accused former Cabinet Minister Lord Young of being ‘offensive’ when he made remarks that critics believe undermine health and safety legislation.

Lord Young, who is currently leading a review into health and safety laws and the growth of the ‘compensation culture’, said in an interview with the Times: “people occasionally get killed, it’s unfortunate but it’s part of life” and “do you know anything dangerous in offices?”

David Cameron has appointed the former trade and industry secretary to introduce a “sensible new approach” to the workplace, addressing worries over the “application and perception” of health and safety laws.

But Unite also believes that the views of trade unions were undermined by the review’s three week consultation period, compared to the normal 8-12 weeks.

Mr Woodley said: “I welcome a genuine review of the impact of health and safety legislation in the workplace, and particularly a review that considers the widespread failure of employers to conduct a workplace risk assessments; the lack of effective investigation of workplace accidents, incidents and causes of ill-health; and a widespread failure by employers to report injuries and diseases and dangerous occurrences.

“Regrettably the remarks reported in the press from Lord Young are deeply hurtful and offensive, particularly to the families of those killed at work.