Agencies that enforce health and safety rules are understaffed
A report by the campaign group Unchecked has claimed that agencies that enforce air, water, food and other safety regulations are unable to do this properly because of staff shortages due to budget cuts.
There are a number of agencies that enforce rules concerning food and the environment, most of which have had their budgets cut. According to data published by Unchecked, The Food Standards Agency has had their funding cut by 47%, the Environment Agency's environmental protection budget fell by 62% and the funding for the Forestry Commission decreased by 53%. The number of local authority health and safety inspectors has also fallen by 48%.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) budget has fallen by 53% and staff numbers have been cut by 32%. The HSE enforces health and safety in businesses and other organisations. It helps workplaces make risk assessments about PPE equipment, provide advice on health and safety training and prosecute companies for safety breaches.
With fewer members of staff, agencies are unable to carry out an adequate number of safety inspections and as a result, fewer organisations have been prosecuted. Unchecked says:
“Strong rules, fairly enforced, create a better country. From keeping our food safe to tackling climate change or improving childrens’ health, enforcement matters. But the ongoing erosion of enforcement capacity in the UK is hindering regulators’ ability to make sure the rules are being adhered to.”
Unchecked campaigns to have better health and safety enforcement because it believes that fair enforcement protects the British people.