Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, today (10th September 2012) hit out at a government announcement that routine safety checks to many small businesses – and including shops, bars and cafes – “will put both workers and customers at risk”.
The new rules to be introduced in April 2013 will mean checks by the Health and Safety Executive will no longer be routinely carried out on premises like shops, pubs, offices and clubs.
“This announcement has been slipped out quietly on a day when the news will be dominated by the Olympic parade. It is nothing less than a devastating attack on safety which will impact on workers and the public alike.
“We all know that the retail and leisure industries are amongst some of the laxest sectors of the economy, with many low paid, part time and casual workers and this announcement raises serious questions. For example, with many supermarkets now open round the clock, will that mean expectant pregnant mothers are forced to work night shifts at certain small outlets now?
“What of some of the occupational hazards in bar and retail work – such as standing for long periods or the dangers of working alone and facing attack – common in 24 hour stores and betting shops – as we saw on Teesside recently? The cash pressures to make a profit will equally put the general public at higher risk.
“This is yet another example of a government blinded by ideology putting ordinary people in second place – and this time with possibly lethal consequences.”