Huge fall in labour inspections across Europe raises Covid risk
The number of inspections has collapsed across Europe, leaving workplaces less prepared for the Covid-19 pandemic.
The number of labour inspections has collapsed across Europe over the last decade, leaving workplaces less prepared for the Covid-19 pandemic. New research from the Europe-wide trade union confederation (ETUC) reveals that safety inspections have been cut by a fifth since 2010, falling from 2.2 million annual visits to 1.7 million.
The decade has seen the loss of over 1,000 labour inspectors across the EU. More than a third of European countries no longer meet the ILO’s standard of having one labour inspector per 10,000 workers. ETUC says the cuts left workplaces less prepared for the Covid-19 pandemic. The report reveals Romania had the largest fall in inspectors (45 per cent), followed by the UK (32 per cent). This has been echoed in recent reports in the UK about cuts to the number of HSE Inspectors and the lack of prosecutions of employers failing to meet covid-secure regulations.
ETUC deputy general secretary Per Hilmersson said: “It is a scandal that the number of workplace safety checks were at their lowest in a decade when Covid-19 struck. Labour inspections have been slashed across Europe because of austerity, and that undoubtedly left workplaces less prepared for the pandemic and may have cost many lives.”
He added: “It’s time Europe stopped treating life so cheaply and put peoples’ safety first. All countries need to dramatically increase their number of labour inspectors to facilitate a safe return to work after the pandemic, as well as dealing with the unacceptably high number of fatal accidents and work-related cancer.”