HC Deb 12 February 2004 vol 417 cc1586-7W
Harry Cohen

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what health and safety regulations apply to the cockling industry; what steps are being taken to ensure that these regulations are communicated to workers of foreign origin; and if he will make a statement. [154450]

Mr. Pond

The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 applies to the cockling industry as to other industrial sectors and work activities in Great Britain.

The Act places the primary duty on the employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all their employees.

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 require employers to assess the risks to health and safety at work of their employees and others affected by their work activity; provide their employees with comprehensible information on the risks to their health and safety identified by the assessment and the preventive and protective measures; and ensure employees are provided with adequate health and safety training. All workers, including those of foreign origin, are entitled to equal protection under health and safety legislation.

Guidance on those regulations makes it clear that employers should provide information in a form which takes account of any language difficulties and that they may need to make special arrangements for employees who have little or no understanding of English. These could include providing translation, using interpreters, or replacing written notices with clearly understood symbols or diagrams.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) provides basic information in other languages. It is revising existing advice for workers that will be available in a wider range of languages, and HSE will proactively publicise this to help ensure it reaches target audiences. HSE's confidential public inquiry service, Infoline, also offers a telephone interpreting service for callers in over one hundred languages.