Light-touch regulation pulled apart at TUC 17

11 Sep 2017

The dangers of light-touch regulation at work were highlighted by PCS during a debate at TUC Congress.

Paula Brown, PCS vice president, today spoke in support of composite 2, the safety risks of light touch regulation, which was passed.

She said: “In this hall we represent members who face unnecessary risks at work every day.”

She explained that between 2015/16 1.3million workers were reported to be suffering from a work-related illness, 72,702 workers were injured (non fatally).

“Why is it then that our government continues to under regulate?” she asked. “We face Brexit at a time when HSE resources are at an all-time low,” she told delegates.

The cost of work-related injuries are approximately £14.1bn every year, she added.

No regulation at all

The motion put forward by Leo Nugent of BALPA, dealt with the fact that since the 1980s consecutive governments have argued for the need to reduce regulation on industry under the guise of promoting entrepreneurship and employment, culminating in the gradual weakening of safety regulators in most sectors of the economy and the replacement of high quality standards and safety with ‘light touch’ regulation.

“This light touch regulation has resulted in worsening of parameters that govern aviation,” he told delegates.

“Light-touch regulation means self-regulation, which means no regulation at all,” he added.

Congress voted to call on the government to scrap the dangerous experiment of light-touch regulation and to provide additional funding to urgently address the decline in the HSE’s capacity.

More widely, weak regulation and dwindling resources for enforcement agencies such as the HSE has been at the heart of many, if not most, disasters, the banking crisis, industrial accidents, care failings and operator fatigue accidents in the road, rail and maritime sectors, the Composite sets out. 

Weak regulation militates against a culture of continuous improvement to safety standards in the offshore oil and gas industry, including in offshore helicopter transport which has seen a series of fatal accidents in the last decade and remains offshore workers’ primary safety concern. 

Regulators work more intensively but their capacity to respond to major incidents is under threat.

Elsewhere, also speaking in support was Katie Dunning of CWU, who said “enough is enough. Placing profit before people is not only unlawful it is dangerous”

“Light regulation is little better than no regulation,” she added.

And Neil Hope-Collins of Prospect, made the link between austerity and deregulation, telling delegates that they were “a single issue”.

Read more news from PCS at TUC17.

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