Letter: Business interests killed off asthma code

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The Independent Online
Sir: You report ('Campaign to highlight asthma in workplace, 26 April) on the Government's 'new' campaign - based on voluntary guidance to employers - to prevent workplace asthma.

This is, in fact, a much watered-down version of a 1992 Health and Safety Executive (HSE) proposed Code of Practice, that would have required approval by the Secretary of State for Employment.

This proposed Code of Practice, legally enforceable and much stronger than mere guidance, was dropped because of employer opposition and the current climate of deregulation in government. Thus a great opportunity has been lost to prevent much life-threatening and debilitating asthma caused by respiratory sensitisers at work.

We know of some of the more responsible UK employers who acted to protect their employees from respiratory sensitisers only when they thought the HSE was going to bring in an Approved Code of Practice. Now the Code has been watered down to guidance, they will not act because there is no 'level playing field' and they would go out of business unless all industry is forced to comply.

The irresponsible employers will continue to ignore this 'new' voluntary guidance; just as they have ignored previous voluntary HSE guidance in this area.

Yours sincerely,

A. J. P. DALTON

Senior Lecturer in Health

and Safety

School of Applied Science

South Bank University

London, SE1

26 April

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