HC Deb 15 March 1955 vol 538 cc1096-7
4. Dr. Stross

asked the Minister of Labour whether he has noted the unsatisfactory figures for the number of accidents that occur among women and girls in factories and establishments supervised by the inspectorate of labour; and what steps are being taken to bring the accident rate among these groups to a lower level.

Mr. Watkinson

The Chief Inspector of Factories again drew attention to the unsatisfactory trend of these accidents in his last Annual Report and urged that industry should devote more thought to means of reducing the number of accidents to female workers. Her Majesty's Inspectors of Factories pay attention to this problem in their inspections of establishments employing female workers.

The National Joint Advisory Council, which my right hon. and learned Friend consulted recently on the general question of accident prevention in factories, has appointed a sub-committee to make recommendations as to the means by which greater freedom from accidents to workpeople generally may be achieved. This sub-committee is now working.

Dr. Stross

Does not the Parliamentary Secretary agree with me that this unhappy state of affairs highlights the fact that the inspectorate tends to become grossly weakened year by year in the technical skill of its entrants? I am speaking of technically-trained entrants. Will he not do something about that to make sure that it is not one of the factors in this distressing increase?

Mr. Watkinson

I do not agree with the hon. Gentleman at all. This is a special problem which has been clearly outlined, and we have a very good and expert sub-committee now working on it.

Mr. Lee

Does the Parliamentary Secretary agree that there is no substitute for an efficient safety committee inside certain types of factory, where the committee can demonstrate how fatal it is to use files without handles and spanners which are worn out and to do such things as that? Will he try to get employers to give such demonstrations inside the factories rather than put it on the shoulders of the factory inspectorate?

Mr. Watkinson

I am grateful to the hon. Member for bringing attention to that point. I think the existence of more safety committees would do a great deal to help.