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NEW HEALTH AND SAFETY COMMISSION CHAIRMAN ANNOUNCED

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Bill Callaghan is to be the new chairman of the Health and Safety ...
Bill Callaghan is to be the new chairman of the Health and Safety

Commission, the deputy prime minister announced today. The current

chairman, Frank Davies, is to retire on 30 September.

Mr Prescott said: 'I am delighted to announce that Bill Callaghan is to be the next chairman of the Health and Safety Commission. I know he is the right person to lead the commission into the next millennium, maintaining its strong tradition of consensus. I will be looking to him to take forward my drive to revitalise health and safety, generating a new mood in industry that recognises both the human and business advantages of better health and safety standards.

'Raising health and safety standards in the workplace is central to

our social justice agenda and the work of my department. This is a

key public appointment. Bill Callaghan has an outstanding record of

achievement at the TUC, and I know he will rise to this new challenge.'

Mr Prescott paid tribute to the achievements of Sir Frank, and

the commitment and enthusiasm he had brought to the commission.

He also welcomed the decision of the European Commission to ban

imports of white asbestos into the EU.

The deputy prime minister said: 'The removal of this last obstacle means that we can now move to ban white asbestos. Asbestos kills more than 30 people a week in Britain. Blue and brown asbestos are already banned. We intend to legislate on white asbestos so that this century closes with all forms of asbestos having being banned.'

The latest HSC safety statistics revealed that last year recorded

deaths in the workplace were the lowest ever, falling from 274 in

1997/98, to 257 in 1998/99. The rate of major injuries has also fallen. The construction industry, which historically has a poor

record, improved with a drop in the number of deaths from 80 to 66.

But the agricultural industry saw a rise in fatalities with 46

deaths.

Mr Prescott said: 'The latest figures overall demonstrate the achievements of Sir Frank and the HSC in cutting the toll of death and injury in the workplace. But there is still room for improvement, particularly in farming and the building industry, where the number of fatalities is way too high. It's unacceptable and it's got to stop.'

Biographical details

Bill Callaghan is currently chief economist and head of the economic

and social affairs department at the TUC. He has had a long and

distinguished career with the TUC, mainly in the economic field. He

wrote the TUC's key strategic document 'Partners for progress'

setting out priorities in employment relations, and he was

responsible for the subsequent May 1999 conference on social

partnership, 'Partners for progress: new unionism in the workplace'.

He has considerable experience of working with different groups in the

business community and has served on the boards of Business in the

Community and the Basic Skills Agency. Bill Callaghan was appointed

to the Low Pay Commission in 1997. He was a member of the high level

consultation group on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and

Development's jobs study and earlier this year he was invited to

contribute to a key OECD conference on youth employment in Washington

DC.

Notes

1. Bill Callaghan's appointment is to commence on 1 October 1999 and will run for five years. This is a part-time appointment based on a three day working week, attracting an annual salary of£100,000 pro rata. From 28 July until 30 September Mr Callaghan will be chairman-designate.

2. Other public appointments Mr Callaghan holds are: member of the Research Priorities Board (remuneration approximately£400 per year), appointed by the Economic and Social Research Council; and member of the Low Pay Commission (unpaid) appointed by the president of the board of trade and secretary of state for trade and industry.

3. The Health and Safety Commission is an independent body set up under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. Its operational arm, the Health and Safety Executive, is a separate statutory body employing just under 4,000 civil servants. The overall purpose of the Health and Safety Commission and Executive is to ensure that risks to people's health and safety from work activities are properly controlled. The commission is responsible to the deputy prime minister and secretary of state for the environment, transport and the regions, but also has responsibilities to other ministers, notably those at DTI and MAFF.

4. The European Commission decided on 27 July to ban imports of white asbestos into the EU. Exposure to asbestos in any of its three forms (blue, brown and white) can cause potentially fatal lung diseases, asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. White asbestos is currently used principally in brake linings, gaskets and seals for individual plant, asbestos cement and composite materials like textiles (e.g. asbestos gloves).

5. Workplace safety statistics for 1998/99 were published by the Health and Safety Executive on July 27, 1999. Free Copies of the safety statistics bulletin 1998/99 are available from HSE Books, PO Box 1999, Sudbury, Suffolk, CO10 6FS. Tel: 01787 881165 or fax: 01787 31399. More detailed statistics will be published in the autumn with the HSC annual report.

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