Memorandum by the Broadcasting Entertainment
Cinematograph & Theatre Union (HSE 02)|
In common with the trade union movement as a
whole, the Broadcasting Entertainment Cinematograph and Theatre
Union (BECTU) deplores the reduction in HSE resources over recent
years. This has to a large degree forced the organisation to step
back from its intended role of comprehensive examination of workplace
health and safety practices, and enforcement of the law. Instead
it has, in our perception, been forced to resort to various forms
of sectoral "auditing" or "sampling".
The trend to labour-market flexibility, casualisation
and fragmentationespecially evident in areas where BECTU
operates such as film and TV productionmeans that we need
more Inspectors on the ground, not less.
Given all the evidence demonstrating the cost
to the economy of injury and ill-health, we believe that an increase
in HSE resources should be seen not as a drain on public funds,
but as an investment in a healthy and prosperous workforce.
To pick up on a point made above, the HSE needs
to develop new structures and practices to address flexible and
casualised patterns of employment. Many workers now earn their
livings by moving from one short-term contract to another. Whether
we call them casual, freelance, or "self-employed",
the HSE's own figures demonstrate that they are more vulnerable
to work-related accidents and ill-health than their permanently-employed
colleagues. One of the causal factors here is that many employers
believewronglythat they are not responsible for
the health and safety of freelance or casual workers.
Possible HSE initiatives in this area might
formal support for trade union initiatives
such as Roving Safety Reps;
establishing structures for ongoing
health surveillance of casual/freelance workers whose work exposes
them to occupational health hazards;
a publicity drive to dispel employers'
misconceptions about their responsibility for the health safety
and welfare of casual/freelance workers.
There needs to be much more effective co-ordination
of services dealing with occupational health. This might take
the form initially of a more formal link between the Employment
Medical Advisory Service and local NHS services including GPs.
The reality today is that the UK has no Occupational Health Service
worthy of the name.