Letter: Workers risk fatal radiation exposure to keep their jobs

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The Independent Online
Sir: The attitude of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) over the death of William Neilson (9 May) is indefensible. If, as seems likely, he died as the result of exposure to x-irradiation at work, then it is bound to investigate and make recommendations for the conduct of such work in future. On the other hand, if Mr Neilson's work practices conformed to present standards, then it must investigate this also since, even if there is 'no evidence of breach of any regulation by anyone', the regulations were clearly not adequate to prevent him from losing his life.

The overriding consideration for occupational health practitioners is to protect those at work from its ill-effects, and deaths from occupationally related diseases should be seen as a national disgrace. We would have much more respect for the HSE - which is supposedly removed from party politics - if it would openly say that the reason it is not able adequately to protect people at work is because it does not have sufficient funds to monitor working conditions as it feels it should. Giving government departments advice on which health and safety regulations can be relaxed is surely not what it was brought into being to do.

Yours faithfully,

H. A. WALDRON

Consultant Physician

Department of Occupational

Health

St Mary's Hospital

London, W2

10 May

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