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Health And Safety

Volume 982: debated on Wednesday 2 April 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will take steps to prevent a decline in health and safety standards at work following cutbacks in financial support for the Health and Safety Executive; and if he will make a statement.

[pursuant to his reply, 1 April 1980]: Although the Health and Safety Executive was asked to make economies in line with the rest of the public sector; these were less than in other areas of expenditure. My right hon. Friend has excluded the executive from the further reduction in manpower costs recently announced by my hon. Friend the Minister of State, Civil Service Department in view of his concern to maintain health and safety standards at work.—[Vol. 980, c. 748–49.]

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what steps he has taken to ensure that the Factory Inspectorate's emphasis on inspecting larger companies will not lead to neglect of the safety requirements in smaller companies; and if he will make a statement.

[pursuant to his reply, 1 April 1980]: My right hon. Friend has taken no such steps. It is the responsibility of all employers to ensure that safety requirements are not neglected, whatever the size of their company. Her Majesty's Factory Inspectorate selects workplaces for inspection on their merits, without regard to the size of the company that owns them. However, the selection system used is slightly weighted towards the larger workplaces in that, first, these may be divided for inspection purposes into convenient blocks of work, each of which is treated as a separate workplace, and in that inspectors have general instructions to visit the larger workplaces first, thereby covering the greater numbers of employees. Experience has shown that in some larger companies, particularly those with many subsidiaries, there are problems of organisation which may adversely affect health and safety standards, so that the intentions of the senior management may not be translated into action on the shop floor. It has been found that a co-ordinated national approach to larger companies may help to overcome these difficulties, and a small unit was set up some years ago to take the lead in this work among other duties. I am assured by the chairman of the Health and Safety Commission that neither the slight weighting towards the larger workplaces, nor the small allocation of resources to the special unit lead to any significant reduction of inspectorate activity among the smaller companies. If any neglect of safety requirements is discovered at the workplaces of any company, large or small, this is taken into account in determining when the workplace should next be visited.