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Workplace safety activists slam ‘political hijacking’ of government regulator

WORKPLACE safety activists slammed the “political hijacking” of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) today after the regulator rejected the appointment of a TUC-nominated candidate to its board.

The Hazards Campaign said the government agency “at worst, no longer operates as a tripartite organisation, or at best only pretends to operate as one.”

The key principle, which mandates the regulator to work with workers, business and government to keep staff safe, is “fundamental to ensuring that workers’ voices are heard and their concerns are represented at every level of the organisation, including board level,” the group stressed.

It noted that the Robens report, which led to the ground-breaking Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, marks its 50th anniversary this year.

The document, which stipulated a tripartite approach, meant “no decision could be made without the support of both employers and employee representatives,” the campaign said.

Any changes to health and safety law were therefore “seen to have come about by consensus, achieved through a common purpose of improving health and safety in the workplace,” it added.

However, the group argued that this must no longer be the case if Tory ministers “refuse to accept those people that the TUC or other trade unions with due diligence legitimately nominate.”

It also accused the regulator of withdrawing its involvement from industrial committees, which regulate safety in specific sectors by consulting all key stakeholders.

The campaign urged new Work and Pensions Secretary Chloe Smith to “reverse this dangerous and politically motivated path and return the HSE to its independent tripartite origins.”

Both the agency and the Department for Work and Pensions have been contacted for comment.

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