Devolving health and safety

Stirling University’s Andrew Watterson  and Rory O’Neill have published  ‘Regulating Scotland:  What works and what does not in occupational and environmental health and what the future may hold.’

This is a useful commentary, not only on the shocking state of safety enforcement in Scotland, but also on the constitutional debate. Two recommendations are particularly relevant:

  • Serious consideration should be  given to the creation of a Scottish Occupational Health and Safety Agency, controlled from Scotland and freed from Westminster’s financial and political control.


  • Scotland should establish itself as a vocal defender of the environment and workplace standards and of the rights and health of its population, not an apologist for Westminster’s deregulatory obsession or an evidence-blind advocate of the skewed ‘business burdens’ argument that transfers risks and costs to the public and the public purse.

A number of trade unions, including UNISON, argued in their evidence to the Calman Commission that health and safety should be devolved. Sucessive Scottish administrations have shown a willingness to get involved in health and safety, but the engagement has been limited.

This report makes a convincing case for change.


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