confirmed environment minister Angela Eagle.
In a speech to the Engineering Employers Federation Ms Eagle said:
'I want to secure a higher profile for health and safety. I know the
health and safety standards is a government priority, particularly
on health issues at work.
Good health and safety standards are good for business, not the
reverse. Employers should think again about lowering standards to
give them a competitive edge. This is unacceptable.
I will be looking at ways of taking tougher action on employers who
breach health and safety standards. With the help of the Health and
Safety Commission and Executive (HSC/E), I am looking to get the
courts to impose higher penalties for breaches of health and safety
law. The average fine of little over£2,000 by magistrates for a
health and safety offence is pitifully low when human life is put at
Ms Eagle added:
'3,500 people die annually from asbestos related disease and that
figure is expected to grow to 10,000 per year in the future. The
government simply cannot let this go on. Blue and brown asbestos have
already been banned as the most dangerous kinds. But Crysolite (white
asbestos) is still available. We intend to ban its importation,
supply and use and have looked already to the HSC/E on how this can
be achieved. I hope we can do so in the context of a Europe wide
prohibition: we are pressing the European Commission on this'.