BFAWU: More workers killed in construction industry than soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq

Further cuts to health and safety executive will lead to increased deaths at work, warns the BFAWU.

Addressing a fringe meeting at the union’s annual conference in Bridlington today, Health and Safety campaigner and expert Hilda Palmer revealed the true extent of the danger to workers’ health and safety if cuts to the HSE continue.

The HSE has already been subject to severe cuts with budgets slashed and hundreds of jobs lost.

However the Tory led government has hinted at completely closing the HSE with a “review” of the body launched by Employment Minister Mark Hoban last April.

Ms Palmer who works for Families Against Corporate Killings (FACK) and the Hazards Campaign, insisted that health and safety, unlike how it is reported in the mainstream media, was about “life and death for workers, not about red tape and not being able to play conkers in the playground.”

She revealed the true extent of work related deaths and illness, pointing out that more people had been killed during the last 11 years within the construction industry than British soldiers who have been killed in action in Afghanistan and Iraq over the same period.

Adding up all work related deaths across all industries, including those reported to HSE, members of the public killed by work activity, workers killed at sea, work related road traffic incidents and work related suicides Ms Palmer said the Hazards Campaign had found the number during the year 2011/2012 was over 1400.

Deaths from work-related illnesses each year within Great Britain are up to 50,000.

And according to the Labour Force survey, in 2011/2012 the number of people suffering ill health due to work was 1.8 million.

Ms Palmer said: “Austerity is being used a cover to make cuts to the HSE.”

“The government hate health and safety. It is an attack – a driving down of conditions and attack on the working class in general.”

Noting the recent deaths caused by negligent bosses in Bangladesh, she added: “The cuts at the HSE and the undermining of health and safety at work are about trying to make Britain have working conditions equivalent to those in Bangladesh.”

BFAWU general secretary Ronnie Draper said the union prided itself on leading the way on health and safety training for union representatives and would continue to press the government to reverse any further cuts to the HSE.

However he added: “The collective strength of our union and its membership is much more effective than lobbying this Tory-led government.”

“Action speaks louder than words. Not passive action but direct action is what makes a difference.”

–          For further enquiries or an interview with Ronnie Draper, please contact John Millington on 07931316547 // jmillingtonjournalist@gmail.com

Notes to Editors

·         HSE is an executive non-departmental public body (NDPB) responsible for regulating work-related health and safety in Great Britain in partnership with local authorities. Its mission is ‘the prevention of death, injury and ill health to those at work and those affected by work activities’. Ministerial responsibility for HSE rests with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

·         The BFAWU represents over 20,000 workers in food, baking and allied services industries across the UK and Northern Ireland.

·         It is an affiliate to the UK Labour Party. 

·         The Bakers, Food and Allied Workers' Union (BFAWU) is a trade union of workers in the food industry. It was founded in 1847, in Manchester, by a group of Journeymen Bakers.

·         The next year, the organisation began to operate on a national level, and became the Amalgamated Union of Operative Bakers. In 1861 it played a key role in campaigning to secure the Bakehouse Regulations Act, which was eventually passed in 1863.

·         In 1964, the union was renamed the Bakers' Union, which then evolved to the Bakers, Food, and Allied Workers' Union.