ROSPA report highlights Government’s nonsensical attitude to accidents
Partner and personal injury specialist Marcus Weatherby ponders upon the costs – human and financial – of the Government’s bizarre stance on health and safety…
I note that in a recent report ROSPA has called for a ‘fundamental re-appraisal’ of government public health priorities. The call comes at a time when the Government appears to be deaf to the concerns of victims of accidents. To name only a few of this year’s coalition measures, they have:
- cut the funding budget for the HSE to prosecute and investigate safety failings
- introduced ‘reforms’ to make it more costly for accident victims to pursue their employers when they are injured
- changed to RIDDOR reporting regulations to ensure a third less accidents will be reported
- begun the process of amending the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to reduce the level of legislative protection to injured employees
- proposed removing the self-employed from the need to comply with health and safety legislation altogether.
Yet the Government is seemingly ‘all ears’ to the requests of businesses, supposedly in the name of ‘deficit reduction.’ And ROSPA’s report highlights the short-sightedness of such an approach. The report by the charity found that, up to the age of 60, accidents were the leading cause of preventable years of life lost, accounting for 23% of the total.
An emphasis on health and safety is not only a moral imperative, but also a cost-effective measure.
The charity says schemes to prevent accidents achieve quick results and can generate huge savings for the NHS. According to ROSPA, only £1m a year is currently spent on schemes to prevent accidents. They believe that, in England alone, £1bn should be set aside annually to achieve this. In such circumstances is it any wonder that we see other headlines telling of the overburdened NHS experiencing record complaints?
I suppose we should not be surprised that our elected government cannot see the bigger picture – so few of our politicians have ever had a job outside of Westminster. Putting themselves in the shoes of normal working people must be difficult when their life experiences occur in such a rarefied bubble. Real life is much more mundane than time spent eating bugs on a reality show might suggest to an MP!
Time-off from injury at work costs money – not just to businesses, but also to the public purse. The NHS cares for the injured at a time when it is already stretched. Those people out of action due to injury become a further unnecessary addition to a benefits queue the Government has pledged to cut.
Injury places a burden not just on business but also the injured person, all those around them who look after them, and the taxpayer too. Isn’t it then about time that health and safety was given a higher priority?