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Labour Inspectors’ checks are increasingly rare in the construction industry, complains Bill Lawrence, a British trade unionist in this sector.
He estimates that 80% of building sites in the UK have never been inspected. “In the past five years, there have been 217 fatalities. However, due to the government’s austerity measures, the number of civil servants having to cover 257,000 companies and 2.1 million workers has been reduced to 132. Between April 2015 and April 2016, only 9,219 inspections were carried out, or 13% less than three years earlier”, adds Bill Lawrence.
Lawrence predicts that by 2019-2020 the budget of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) will have been reduced by half compared with its level of ten years ago. “An insidious commercialization of the Labour Inspectorate is now under way”, he complains. In the past four years, the HSE has been able to charge UK businesses for its services. During a visit to a construction site, if an inspector notes that the safety legislation is not complied with, he can impose fees equivalent to €143 per hour for the time spent investigating, counselling and adopting implementing measures.