Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Workplace Hazards

I've decided to include the Hazards Magazine in the links to this blog. The smoking ban was brought in on the pretext that it was a health hazard after all. So the concerns of this profession are quite important to us.

This is a publication that campaigns for better health and safety at work. It is critical of the agencies that are meant to enforce health and safety legislation. I haven't yet found an equivalent publication that (critically) covers Scottish workplaces.

In the popular imagination, 'Elf and Safety' is getting more powerful. In truth it is getting less powerful. Its enforcement activities are low and getting lower, meaning that employers are less likely to be pursued for negligence in the workplace. This article, entitled A Neutered Watchdog, states chillingly that 'only a third of amputations are now investigated by the Health and Safety Executive'.

Co-authors Dave Whyte and Steve Tombs, in a separate interview, opine that the HSE has effected a 'surrender to the anti-regulation rhetoric of successive Labour governments'. Well ... see, we were being lied to. Few people would accuse Labour of a light touch when it came to regulations, but clearly they were ready to take it easy when safety at work was at stake ... but let's investigate further before making any allegations. It isn't expected that the Con-Dem Coalition will do anything to tighten the regulatory framework.

Warning: The Hazards Magazine has documented its suspicion of the tobacco industry, equating it with any industry bogeyman who invests in studies claiming the noxious chemicals he requires people to work with to be safe. Their claim that the expression 'manufacturing scientific uncertainty' originates with the tobacco industry may have substance. In their eyes, corporate money is evil and exploitative whether in the hands of tobacco or any other nasty employer.

It shouldn't really come as a surprise that a smoking ban at work was not really a decision taken on safety grounds, although we knew that it didn't come from the government's health and safety agency. What I didn't know was that in areas where workers were crying out for intervention (and this does come from Scotland), they were being told there was no danger, or that the government had decided that a light touch was in order.

Light touch indeed. The smoking ban has been anything but.

1 comment:

Hellraiser said...

If the smoking ban was meant to protect people at work why was is not brought in under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Was is a case that the HSE knew the Healthist Lobby's case was based on Junk Studies.