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We love red tape: it saves lives

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e-postcard campaign, save lives, red tape, Hazards, Theresa MayIt’s easy to ignore the anger and the tears when the victims are safely out of sight.

Since the nation watched in horror as fire ripped through Grenfell Tower, questions about government culpability have been asked.

It seems the Conservatives discarded critical fire, building, product, environmental and workplace safety protection and inspections, and shackled and starved regulators.

Speaking to Hazards, the TUC’s head of safety, Hugh Robertson, said: “From a health and safety point of view I also feel incredible anger that so many warnings were ignored.

“Tower block fires have already been the subject of several inquiries after the 1999 fire in Irvine and the 2009 Camberwell fire.

“There have also been horrendous fires in tower blocks abroad – the best known being Melbourne and Dubai.

“It is not that we did not know the dangers, simply that the government did not act, and when tenants’ groups did speak up their voice was ignored.”

He said the tragedy was in part testimony to “the government’s ideological obsession with deregulation.”

After Theresa May’s January 2017 promise of a ‘hard Brexit’, with the right-leaning press even more shrill in their support for the promised ‘bonfire of regulation’.

The Daily Telegraph launched a ‘Cut EU Red Tape’ campaign in March 2017, on the day Theresa May triggered Article 50, starting the Brexit process.

And Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson was one of a slew of senior Tories to herald a new deregulatory era, promising that Brexit would “get rid of some of the burdensome regulation that has accreted over the last 44 years”.

Iain Duncan Smith pledged to “whittle away” the regulation “burden” with its “intrusions into daily life of citizens”.

Lord Lawson called for a “massive” regulatory cull, adding: “We must lose no time.”

And they might have got away with it.

Occupational fatalities generally occur in ones and twos.

Victims of occupational diseases – the cancers, lung conditions, suicides, heart attacks and strokes – usually die safely out of view, in a hospice, or home or hospital.

It’s easy to ignore the anger and the tears when the victims are safely out of sight.

But Grenfell Tower changed all that.

Like the 1988 Piper Alpha oil rig disaster in the North Sea in which 167 offshore workers died, hard questions do get asked when there are many, many deaths in one devastating incident.

And an open letter sent to Prime Minister Theresa May on 21 June 2017, over 70 organisations and figures from the UK’s safety and health profession jointly called for ‘a political sea change in attitude’ towards health and safety regulation and fire risk management following the tragedy.

The TUC said that supporting the affected families and while this must be the immediate priority, “it is clear that we cannot see Grenfell Tower as a ‘one-off’ disaster but as something that is much more symptomatic of the society we live in and the value that it places on human life, especially the lives of the poor, the dispossessed and the vulnerable.”

“We also need to ensure that the lessons are learned from the disaster so that our fire regulations and enforcement regime are as robust and effective as possible,” Robertson said.

The Hazards Campaign has warned the government repeatedly that its ideological obsession with cutting red tape is a deadly mistake.

And now the Hazards Campaign has said: “Enough is enough. Stop undermining the laws that protect us.”

Part of its new campaign in its fight against the cuts to red tape that cost workers their lives, involves people sending Theresa May an e-postcard calling upon her to end the Conservative party’s clearly dangerous approach to ending regulation and detailed inspections.

Click here to join in and send the Prime Minister an ‘Enough is Enough’ e-postcard.

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