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Derek Maylor, Chairperson

During a recent House of Lords debate the Government said that ministers will meet with leading safety bodies to discuss the UK’s building and fire regulations following the Grenfell Tower disaster.

Many organisations including the CWU wrote to the Prime Minister to get the principle of red tape, burdens on business, safety albatross etc. removed from the political climate and create a better climate that works for the safety, health and welfare of workers and the public, not just selecting the cheapest option but the best one. The principle of one-in two-out etc. was mere political dogma not evidence based safety management.

The Crossrail tunnel construction receives lots of media attention as one of the country's flag ship engineering projects. Something that didn’t get as much attention was the recent court case resulting in fines totalling more than £1m plus costs following three separate incidents which included the death of a worker. On all three occasions, the investigation found that there was a clear failure to enforce exclusion zones that would have protected workers from foreseeable harm.

The Coord is currently responding to the new sentencing guidelines for manslaughter offences and we will emphasise that the trend that has been developing of increased penalties for health and safety offences in the workplace must continue including the use of custodial sentences. The new guidelines will run concurrent with the existing guidelines on corporate manslaughter which were published last year.

Three companies were fined more than £1m after workers were exposed to asbestos whist removing a ceiling. What was interesting and should concern facilities management companies was that although an asbestos survey had been completed it was next to useless for the work being undertaken as there were multiple caveats and disclaimers. Just throwing an asbestos survey across a table during pre-start meeting is not adopting the high standards of control that is required for working where there is potential to expose workers to asbestos.

When the Coord discussed CWU conference propositions earlier this year we considered ocean polluting microbeads; these are tiny pieces of plastic that are increasingly found in products such as toothpaste or facial scrubs. We were pleased then with the Dept. for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs press release on 21st’July pledging action to reduce plastic waste that is polluting our seas and becoming a greater threat to our natural and marine environment every day. Legislation will be introduced this year to ban the sale and manufacture of microbeads following last year’s consultation which the Coord took part.

We welcome the Governments action – not said that very often!

As always, and in conclusion; we aim to provide the best advice and representation for our members and to:

*Ensure a safe working environment
*Promote occupational health
*Help members raise safety concerns
*Advance industry best practice
*Provide representation at national meetings
*Raise issues with other safety or government bodies

Our greatest assets are our Union Safety Representatives and we fully support them in their work.

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