Message from Greater Manchester Hazards

John Bamford Greater Manchester Hazards Centre/ Hazards Campaign comments on the ‘Strike Wave’ 


 I’m not sure what you mean by the term “strike wave”. You must be aware that the Office for National Statistics recorded 170,000 working days lost for 2015, the second lowest number since records began in 1891 – the only year lower was 2005 with 157,000 days lost. Calls for even further restrictions on industrial action seem particularly disproportionate under the circumstances.


Compare that to the figures for working days lost through industrial injury and ill-health caused by work; those figures issued by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show that in 2015/16, 30.4 million working days were lost due to work-related illness or injury: 25.9 million days for work-related illness and 4.5 million days caused by a work-related injury. 


Stress, depression or anxiety and musculoskeletal disorders accounted for the majority of days lost due to work-related ill health, 11.7 and 8.8 million days respectively.The average days lost per case for stress, depression or anxiety was 24 days and for musculoskeletal disorders was 16 days. HSE records that on average each person suffering took around 16 days off work, 20 days for ill health cases and 7.2 for injuries. All this is a huge burden on the economy as well as the individuals who suffer the consequences of unsafe and unhealthy work, but those probably don’t include members of parliament or senior civil servants


I don’t hear any Conservative or Liberal MP’s calling for action against employers who are responsible for most workplace injury and illness despite this massive total of absence days and associated costs – in fact, many continue to trivialise and belittle occupational health and safety, a trend begun recently by former prime minister Cameron. So allow me to make the call for a reversal of the huge cuts imposed on the HSE and local authority enforcement, more enforcing inspectors, more on-the-spot and unannounced inspections to enforce the law on workplace safety, tougher penalties on criminal employers who break the law and injure or kill their employees (Yes – criminal because health, safety and welfare law IS criminal law; breaches are prosecuted at a magistrates’s or Crown Court). The great thing about being on strike is that you are not exposed to your employer’s negligence or indifference to your health, safety or welfare.

About the author

Philip Lewis

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