Health and safety red tape is better than bloody bandages


Speaker and Dalek - warning against exterminating the HSE. Photo: Steve Forrest / Workers' Photos

Speaker and Dalek – warning against exterminating the HSE. Photo: Steve Forrest / Workers’ Photos


Joan McNulty from Stockport local brought a Dalek along with her to the conference to illustrate the government’s attitude to health and safety: “Deregulate, deregulate, deregulate”. 

Moving a motion on opposing the commercialisation of the Health and Safety Executive, she said that the Temple Review had recommended that the executive not be privatised.

“But the government won’t let evidence or analysis get in the way of its ideology” of privatisation and deregulation, she continued.

We must continue to highlight the government’s attack on health and safety, said Ms McNulty, adding that it saves lives.

“We like red tape – it’s better than bloody bandages!” she concluded.

Roger Bannister for the NEC described the commercialisation plans as a “bid to undermine health and safety in the workplace”.

He said that the plans were about changing the body from one that has a proud record of protecting workers to one that is all about making profit.

Michael Harrington from Swansea said the government was “attacking health and safety at all levels,” but he described the attacks on the HSE as “the last straw”.

“The HSE is a police force,” he explained, “keeping us safe in our workplaces. If we allow this … then that is the end of health and safety.”

Feeny Watkins of Camden said that there had been cases in her borough where the HSE had had to be brought in, and where it was found that, when private companies and agency workers were involved, there were greater problems with health and safety.

Conference instructed the executive to undertake work on the issue, including continuing to oppose commercialisation of the HSE and funding cuts to it.