Calling on government to heed the findings of the Donaghy Inquiry, Prospect negotiator Mike Macdonald said on behalf of 1,500 HSE staff:
“This inquiry offers a welcome insight into improving health and safety on construction sites where the accident rate is both morally unacceptable and places a significant financial burden on the taxpayer.
“We value the long-term view set out in the 28 recommendations and hope that Yvette Cooper will recognise the need for additional HSE funding when responding to these recommendations.
While financial prudence is important, there is also a need to address long-term safety issues.”
Macdonald said to protect the public interest, care was needed to ensure:
- building and policy regulations recognise the need for health and safety to be managed
- HSE receives adequate funding to advise companies and directors on their legal duties through warranted inspectors who may prosecute if this advice is not followed
- HSE is able to assist courts to make fair and swift judgment on potential breaches of legislation, recognising that this requires resources and that HSE cannot divert experienced staff from other sectors of the economy
- any enhanced role for union involvement, which is very welcome, receives the government and employer support required to make it productive
- more time is made available to well-trained professional inspectors to enable them to communicate and influence the industry and workers.
Similarly, while applauding the call for a pilot study into more non-accident prosecutions, Macdonald asked: “When are our members going to get the time to take such action? The Field Operations Directorate, of which HSE’s Construction Division is a part, already has more open fatal investigations on its books than it has frontline inspectors.”