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think tank calls for inquiry into workplace response


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A think tank has said the government’s “light-touch” approach to regulating workplaces during the pandemic has led to a failure of the Health and Safety Executive to keep premises “COVID-secure”.

The Institute for Employment Rights (IER), a trade union think tank, has published a report in which 11 experts in occupational health & safety and labour law, reviewed the response to workplace safety, including in construction.

It concluded that the HSE defaulting to telephone-based spot checks at the start of the pandemic was an ineffective approach. It said the organisation has had its budget cut too steeply since 2010 and has not adequately enforced COVID-19 guidelines.

think tank calls for inquiry into workplace response
think tank calls for inquiry into workplace response -pexels/cadeau

It added that, by turning its COVID measures into guidance rather than legislation, they have been left easier to avoid.

The body has called for more funding for the regulator and a public inquiry into the government’s response to the pandemic.

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IER chair Lord John Hendy said: “Something has gone very badly wrong when enforcement action has been taken against over 40,000 members of the public, and holidaymakers are threatened with 10 years in jail, but employers known to have put thousands of people at risk are getting off scot-free.

“There has been health and safety legislation on the UK’s statute book for over 200 years. The current regulations are well known and could have been reasonably and effectively applied to protect workers. They were not.”


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