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Whoever wins the next election, workers’ rights and protections must be maintained, says British Safety Council’s chief executive. 

Mike Robinson, Chief Executive of British Safety Council, has today written to the leaders of the main political parties asking them to make policy commitments on occupational health, safety and wellbeing ahead of the general election.

British Safety Council has specific asks of the next government on standards, protecting workers from air pollution, sick pay and resourcing the Health and Safety Executive. It is hoped they will be included in the parties’ manifestos for government.

Speaking earlier today Mike Robinson said: “We want to see a cross-party consensus on health and safety standards, and I am hopeful that all the main parties will want to reassure voters that they are committed to maintaining high standards of workers’ rights and protections. We have set out some detailed policy requests and we will be holding the next government to account, whatever the outcome of the election.”

“Over the coming years we will be campaigning on the occupational health risks of air pollution, the growing incidence of presenteeism in the workplace and tackling mental health at work. Underpinning that, of course, is a regulatory regime that is up-to-date and well-resourced.”

He went on to say: “Clearly Brexit is a major issue in this election, and we are working with colleagues in the sector to ensure that those who champion health and safety can speak with one voice as the next phase of Brexit unfolds. But this is also a general election that will decide the shape of domestic policy for perhaps the next five years. We want to see the next government building on the UK’s reputation as a leader in health and safety by creating a regulatory framework that ensures no-one is injured or made ill through their work.”  

British Safety Council has asked party leaders to adopt the following pledges:

  1. The next government will maintain the highest standards of health, safety and wellbeing regulations and employee rights, ensuring that the UK continues to be a world leader in health, safety and wellbeing regulations and enforcement.
  2. The next government will legislate to improve air quality across the UK including by:
    a) adopting a legally binding commitment to meet, as a minimum standard, WHO guideline levels for particulate matter (PM) pollution by 2030;
    b) working with the Health and Safety Executive to recognise air pollution as an occupational health hazard;
    c) investing in pollution monitoring so that ambient air pollution can be measured in all regions of the UK as accurately as it is in London. 
  3. The next government will protect and enhance workers’ rights by enshrining in law the right of employees to request workplace modifications on health and other grounds. This will increase the likelihood that employees can stay in work and reduce the incidence of people leaving jobs because of ill-health or other reasons. They will review their target of one million disabled people in employment by 2027, with a view to making it more ambitious.
  4. The next government will abolish the minimum earning threshold on sick pay.
  5. The next government will amend the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974) and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (1999) to include explicit duties of employers to safeguard the mental health of their workers and reduce the risk of exposure to work-related stress.
  6. The next government will commit to resourcing the Health and Safety Executive, local authorities and other regulatory bodies with adequate funding to ensure they proactively promote health, safety and wellbeing in the workplace and ensure compliance as a minimum standard.