According to the UK’s largest union there has been a 25% reduction in the number of Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspectors since 2010 so that, by 31 December 2016, there were just 980 compared to 1311 six years earlier.
United has warned that workers’ lives are being placed at risk due to the cut in the number of frontline health and safety staff.
It obtained the figures via a Freedom of Information (FoI) request and has released them just before International Workers’ Memorial Day to highlight what it sees as the increasing lack of enforcement and safety protection in the workplace.
Unite acting general secretary Gail Cartmail, said: "HSE inspectors play a vital role in keeping workers safe. Rogue bosses who are prepared to break safety laws, are only kept in check by the fear of being caught and punished. Fewer inspectors mean more bosses willing to risk workers’ lives to boost profits."
The newly-revealed statistics follow Unite’s recent report, also after an FoI request, that it takes three years four months on average from a fatal workplace accident until those responsible are brought to justice.
"It is clear", Ms Cartmail argued, "that the HSE is being denied the resources to undertake its role properly. In these circumstances it is more important than ever that union safety reps are given the training, support and time to conduct their duties and keep their fellow workers safe."
She called on all political parties to give a pledge to make workplace safety a priority by giving the HSE the proper resources to undertake its role effectively.