A report published by the TUC has exploded government claims that a ‘compensation culture’ is fuelling a drive towards over intrusive and burdensome levels of health and safety protection in the workplace. The figures reveal that such claims are nothing better than ‘scaremongering’ and are being used to justify cuts to the protection offered to workers.
According to the report, awards for work related illnesses have actually dropped significantly. In 2001 such awards were running at 219,183, whereas, by last year, they had fallen to just 87,655, a reduction of 60%.
The report was published by Hazard, the workers journal, and amongst the other illuminating statistics it contained was the fact that someone suffering from a work-related cancer only has a one in fifty chance of receiving compensation, and that, although approximately 4,000 people per year die of chronic bronchitis and emphysema related to work, only 59 received a pay-out for the condition in the last year.
Speaking on behalf of the TUC, general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The Government’s trying to brainwash people into thinking the UK has a rife compensation culture. However, the facts tell a very different story. Even those dying from work-related diseases have precious little chance of getting a payout.
“The true Government motive here is to weaken health and safety laws and make it harder to for victims to pursue claims. Unfortunately the end result is likely to be a much higher rate of workplace accidents, injuries and illnesses in the future.”
The report was written by Rory O’Neill, Professor of Occupational Health at Stirling University, and he said: “The Government’s cynical promotion of a compensation culture myth means many workers who are dying in pain are also dying in poverty.
“We are seeing a denial of justice because the government is putting the health of the insurance industry and the safety of the most dangerous rogues in the business community over the health, safety and survival of people at work.”
Amongst the measures which the government has announced on the back of the compensation culture myth are the cutting of workplace inspections and a cut in the budget for the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme.