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Health And Safety

Volume 410: debated on Monday 18 August 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on the health and safety environment within which fruit and vegetable packhouse operators and growers operate; and what regulations apply to these sectors to take account of the particular needs of the casual and foreign labour they use. [129777]

The potential hazards at fruit and vegetable packhouses and growers typically include: transport; machinery; manual handling; noise; slips, trips and falls; and dermatitis. These hazards are common across a range of industries.The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 requires all employers to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of all their employees. The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 require employers to assess the risks to the health and safety of their employees, and to provide them with information on the risks and measures introduced to protect them.The risk assessment should identify those employees that may be particularly at risk because they do not speak, read or understand English. Employers should make special arrangements to safeguard the health and safety of these employees. This may include providing translations, using interpreters or replacing written health and safety notices with clearly understood symbols or diagrams. An increased level of supervision and monitoring of work activities may also be appropriate.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many Health and Safety Executive full- time inspectors there are; and how many there were in each of the previous three years [130576]

I refer the hon. Member to the written answer given to the hon. Member for Tunbridge Wells (Mr. Norman) on 7 March 2003, Official Report, column 1269W.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what reasons underlie the policy of the Health and Safety Executive (a) to allocate further staff to accident investigations and (b) not to allocate staff to preventative work. [130577]

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has not adopted a policy of allocating further staff to accident investigations, at the expense of staff allocated to preventative work.HSE has recently reviewed the balance of resource applied to preventive inspections and investigation of incidents and complaints. HSE has decided to realign its resource to focus more on preventive work; allocating more staff time to preventive inspections, while concentrating the resource applied to investigation on the most serious incidents and complaints. This approach will enable more effective delivery of its mission to ensure that risks to people's health and safety from work related activities are properly controlled.

This is in response to the fact that more cases of ill health caused by work are occurring and there has been a levelling off in the incidence of serious and fatal injuries.

The policy of selecting a proportion of accidents and complaints for investigation, with the most serious being investigated, to ensure lessons are learnt to prevent recurrences has not changed. Accidents and complaints are selected for investigation using criteria set out in its incident selection and complaints procedures.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the Health and Safety Executive's annual budget was in each year since 1997. [130910]

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for Worcester (Mr. Foster) on 14 July, Official Report, column 75W.