David Cameron said proudly whilst in office that he would, ‘build a bonfire of health and safety regulations’. It hasn’t taken long for the consequences to become a reality in the form of the Grenfell Tower disaster.
As someone that has fought for more health and safety regulation, not less, this disaster comes as no surprise. Over the years all I have ever heard from companies and government departments whining that ‘light touch’ regulation will be enough to ensure people’s safety.
Whilst not wanting to pre-judge the outcome of the enquiry into the Grenfell disaster, some shocking facts have already emerged.
Government departments consigned building regulations to the scrap heap, hoping not to anger ministers who follow Tory dogma (such as Cameron’s above), together with their obsession with austerity. The Kensington and Chelsea local authority has also been widely criticised for its own behaviour, before, during and after the disaster.
This tragic and terrible episode in London nails the myth that scrapping environmental, workplace and building safety legislation in homes and communities is somehow a burden on society.
It is not and never has been. Instead, we should strive to maintain, improve and enforce health and safety laws in order to protect us all. I hope Cameron and all those who hold his views sleep soundly at night, but in my view, of course they will – they have little or no conscience to keep them awake.