Toothless enforcement in Scotland
Health and safety enforcement in Scotland is withering away, according to new figures obtained by the University of Stirling’s Occupational and Environmental Health Research Group (OEHRG).
Researchers found that the number of people employed by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) across Great Britain has dropped by over 11% in just 5 years. However in Scotland, the fall was over 13%, from 304 full-time equivalents in 2003 to just 264 in 2008.
Rory O’Neill of OHREG said: “It’s not just the numbers of inspectors that is crucial. It’s what those inspectors are allowed to do – HSE is a watchdog whose teeth have been pulled.”
Frontline inspectors covering factories and agriculture have dropped by over 16%, while offshore inspectors were down by 20%. Only one inspector covers all of Scotland’s quarrying industry, the most hazardous land-based job in the UK.
The researchers called for a doubling of the size of the enforcement staff in Scotland and better rights for trade union safety reps.