claim just 2.5% of working-age Covid deaths are from exposure to Coronavirus
for reporting workplace deaths and infections is “letting bad bosses off the
hook”, says TUC
has badly undermined health and safety regulation
and enforcement during the pandemic
number of people who have died from exposure to Covid at work is being
“massively under-reported” by employers, according to a new TUC report
published today (Sunday).
report highlights a huge discrepancy between Covid work-related deaths reported
by employers and data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and Public
April 2020 and April 2021 the ONS reported that 15,263 people of
working age died from Covid.
according to reports filed by employers just 387 (2.5 per cent) of these deaths
came from workers contracting Covid at work.
body says this under-reporting has badly undermined health and
safety regulation enforcement during the pandemic with employers less
likely to face action from regulators for putting staff at risk.
in at-risk sectors
report shows that in sectors with high numbers of deaths during the
pandemic - like food production and transport - only a small fraction
of deaths have been reported as work-related by employers.
from the ONS show that between March 2020 and December 2020 more than 600
people working in the transport sector died.
according to reports filed by employers (over the longer period of April 2020
to April 2021) just 10 deaths in the transport sector were work-related.
from the ONS show that 63 food production workers died between March 2020 and
according to data supplied by employers (over the longer period of April 2020
to April 2021) just three of these deaths were the result of work.
believes the true number of work-related deaths in these and other
sectors are much higher, especially considering the high number of breaches of
safety protocols we have seen during the pandemic and the high numbers of
system “letting bad bosses off the hook”
are required by law to report
deaths, injuries and illnesses that take place at work or in connection
done through a mechanism called RIDDOR (The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and
Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013) which logs work-related deaths,
illnesses and injuries for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
under the current reporting system employers are given “free rein” to
decide whether a Covid-19 diagnosis
is the result of occupational exposure or from exposure outside of work
says this loophole has led to employers not reporting the true scale of Covid
work-related deaths and infections to the HSE, despite this information being
vital to containing the spread of the virus.
says that for the HSE to do its job effectively it must possess an accurate and
up-to-date picture of where and when work-related deaths and infections are
the pandemic it has only been provided with very partial information from
prevented the HSE from carrying out potentially urgent inspections and ensuring
employers take the necessary action to keep workers and the public safe, says
shows that just 1 in 218 workplaces has been inspected by the HSE (between
March 2020 and April 2021) and not one single employer has been prosecuted for
putting staff at risk.
union body says this “crisis of regulation and enforcement” has
allowed bad bosses to get away with flagrant labour rights abuses – adding that
the pandemic has highlighted Britain’s enforcement system’s long-standing
approach needed to health and safety
as calling for improvements in the way work-related delated deaths and
infections are reported, the union body says government must reverse cuts to
the HSE of the past decade, which it says left the country “under-prepared and
vulnerable” to the pandemic.
last ten years has seen real term
cuts of 50 per cent to
the HSE budget, on top of local authority budgets being slashed.
has also been a dramatic decline in inspections. There were 27
per cent fewer HSE inspections carried out in the UK in 2019 than 2011, amounting to a fall
of over 5,700 a year.
General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:
deserves to be safe at work. But this pandemic has exposed a crisis in health
and safety regulation and enforcement.
have massively under-reported Covid work-related deaths and infections.
has made it much harder for regulators to track where outbreaks are happening
and allowed bad bosses to get away with flagrant labour rights abuses.
staggering that not a single employer has been prosecuted for putting workers
at risk of contracting Covid-19.
government must fix the deficiencies in how workplace deaths, illnesses and
injuries are reported. The current system is letting bosses off the hook.
ministers must fund enforcement bodies properly so they can recruit and train
qualified workplace inspectors, inspect more workplaces, and prosecute
companies who don’t keep their workers safe.”
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