• Max Bradford

Labour Minister Max Bradford today dismissed CTU claims that the Government was starving the Occupational Health and Safety Service of funds to undertake prosecutions.

Responding to a statement by the CTU, Mr Bradford said: "These claims are completely unfounded. OSH has never held back on a prosecution because of lack of funds.

"Decisions to prosecute employers for unsafe behaviour are based on the law, the facts of the case, the availability of evidence and whether it is the most appropriate form of action. Funding does not not enter the equation."

Mr Bradford said that the CTU's quoting of prosecutions intitiated in the 1996/97 as proof of a funding constraint was misleading.

"The apparent drop in prosecutions in 1996/1997 reflects timing issues as OSH records case details in its database only when charges have been brought to a conclusion and many cases are still on-going."

Mr Bradford also disputed the CTU's focus on prosecutions as a measure of success of the Health and Safetty in Employment Act.

"It is like measuring the success of a school by the number of student's disciplined for bad-behaviour", he said. "OSH works in partnership with industry and has a strong educative role. Prosecutions are only one of a number of tools available to OSH to increase compliance with the Act and are not necessarily the most effective."