In the wake of the international outcry at the appalling death rate of migrant workers constructing the Qatar 2022 World Cup infrastructure, Prime Minister Cameron yesterday told BBC 5 Live that "everyone has a duty to insist on the best safety standards". Holding up the safety record of the London Olympics construction as an example to the world, the PM urged the Gulf state to "insist on better".
"David Cameron lays the credit for what was clearly a triumph, entirely with Britain's construction industry," said Prospect's health and safety officer Sarah Page. "Yet he ignores the subtle influence of the Health and Safety Executive. Research* has shown how their early intervention was a vital precondition to the Olympic construction success."
Whether Britain's workplace health and safety guardian could achieve the same today is questionable. The government's zeal for deregulation and budget cuts has significantly diminished HSE's proactivity and undermined its relationships with duty-holders.
Said Page: "We share the International Trade Union Confederation's abhorrence at alleged working conditions described as reminiscent of the industrial revolution. The London Olympics showed what can be achieved when business is well run supported by health and safety law that is enabling. It is ironic that the PM is in the news urging better safety standards from employers on the very day his government enacts a licence to rogue employers removing rights to workers’ compensation that the Victorians introduced."