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The GMB, Britain’s General Union, today challenged the Health and Safety Commission and Executive to support a new right for trade unions that would allow private prosecutions of employers who fail to protect their workforce from health and safety risks.

Speaking after the latest sessions of the House of Commons Select Committee Inquiry on the work of the Health and Safety Commission and Executive, Kevin Curran, GMB General Secretary, said:

“Since the Health and Safety Commission issued its ‘Revitalising Health and Safety’ strategy in June 2000, we have heard little about how it intends to improve enforcement action. The GMB is now calling for the Health and Safety Commission and Executive to show that they are serious about improving enforcement of health and safety regulations. As a starting point, they should hold discussions with Ministers and the trades unions about reforming the 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act to allow us to take out private prosecutions against negligent employers."

Kevin Curran added,

”Rather than prosecuting for breaches of health and safety law, the HSE prefer to rely on guidance that plainly doesn’t have the teeth to influence unscrupulous employers. As the HSE is so reluctant to enforce the law, it’s time for new rights to be granted to unions so that we can act on behalf of our members when the HSE fails to do so.”

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