School death shows importance of health and safety

The tragic death of a schoolgirl in Scotland is a reminder that the need for safe and healthy workplaces is important not just for workers, but also for anyone else who may visit a workplace or be affected by the work going on there.  

The girl died after a school wall collapsed on her and while the incident is yet to be investigated, Prime Minister David Cameron has described it as a “shocking accident” and said that any lessons would have to be learned.

However, the government, together with friends in the media, has mocked health and safety regulations as often being unnecessary ‘red tape’ and detrimental to business.

UNISON says that adequate funding for building or properly refurbishing schools must be made available, while all schools should also be properly inspected for asbestos – a known and growing hazard that the government would prefer to ignore.

Vincent Borg, from UNISON’s health and safety unit, said: “Our heart goes out to the family of this young girl, nothing can be worse than experiencing the death of your child.

“Each year on 28 April, UNISON and many other campaigners mark International Workers’ Memorial Day – a day when we remember those who have died at work, and demand safer and healthier work for those who are living.

“As this case demonstrates, workplace health and safety is not just about workers – it’s about the safety of our children, about patients in hospitals or the elderly or infirm who are looked after in the community.

“Tragedies like this can usually be avoided with proper systems and sufficient resources in place to manage and control the risks.

“We call on David Cameron and the government to stop mocking health and safety, to ensure adequate funding to refurbish or replace schools, and to ensure that all schools are inspected for asbestos.”

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International Workers’ Memorial Day