Health and safety industry reacts to Labour win

  • Health & Safety
Health and safety industry
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Peninsula Team, Peninsula Team

(Last updated )

Back in government after 14 years in opposition, Labour has a massive majority to put their legislative agenda into action. They face a number of challenges, and health and safety law is by no means the least of these. The country faces a mental health crisis with shortages of medical support and community services struggling to meet demand.

Mental health

The scale of the problem is the first hurdle. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimate more than a third of 16-34-year-olds who are out of work are affected either by depression, anxiety or phobias. ONS figures also show 1.2 million people currently waiting for mental health treatment.

Labour’s shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said:

“There is a crisis in mental illness that is keeping people out of the labour market and costing the country billions... people across the country are being denied the support they need to get into work and stay in work... Labour's first steps to growth will deliver the mental health plan to support  people who want to work, to be in work.”

Those ‘first steps’ are expected to be recruitment of an extra 8,500 mental health staff, and the creation of New Young Futures hubs, providing open access to mental health services for children and young people in every community.

Mental health is incorporated into Labour’s Make Work Pay plan as a key factor in bringing people back to work. It’s reasonable to expect one of its headline policies will get priority for implementation, but there’s no firm dates as yet when we can expect any new law to reach Parliament.

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Violence at Work

A Retail Trust survey last year found that 90% of retail workers said they had been abused by customers at work, including incidents where they had been threatened, punched in the face and hit with metal baskets.

Co-op supermarket alone had evidence that, of 3,000 incidents where security teams detained serious offenders in its stores, police failed to show up four-fifths of the time.

This atmosphere of abuse and anxiety about going to work is likely the impetus behind Labour’s pledge to create a new, specific offence for assaults on shopworkers.

If it passes, the legislation would seek to protect retail workers from threat and violence, and strengthen the rights and protections for whistleblowing in the workplace. ‘Respect Orders’ are mentioned in Labour’s manifesto as one method to assist enforcement.

Respect Orders are powers to ‘ban persistent adult offenders from town centres’, an attempt to scrap what Labour call ‘effective immunity for shoplifting introduced by the Conservatives’.

An amendment had been tabled earlier this year by the Government, as part of its Criminal Justice Bill, to bring tougher penalties for those who attack shopworkers going about their job. However, with the announcement of the election, the Criminal Justice Bill was one of many pieces of legislation scrapped before the dissolution of Parliament.

Whilst it has yet to make its way into the statutes, this additional protection will probably form part of a larger bill covering crime and antisocial behaviour.

Visit BrAInbox today where you can find answers to questions like How can I prepare my employees to deal with violence and aggression that they may encounter at work?

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