Community backs new workplace injury council, calls for COVID-19 to be classified as “industrial disease”

Community have backed plans for a new advice and research Council in Scotland to modernise industrial injuries benefits, as well as calling for Covid-19 to be classified as an industrial disease.

Responding to the Proposed Scottish Employment Injuries Advisory Council Bill consultation, Community argues that workers in some sectors had faced increasingly risky workplace environments due to prolonged periods in close proximity with others. Echoing calls made by Mark Griffin MSP, Community also calls on the UK and Scottish Governments to recognise Covid-19 a workplace acquired disease.

Roy Rickhuss CBE, General Secretary of Community, says:

“We welcome the calls for a new workplace injury council for Scotland, one we believe will create a better and safer future for all. Workers and trade unions must to be at the heart of the newly devolved industrial injuries benefits system so it reflects the modern workplace and considers new and emerging conditions like Covid-19 as well as existing conditions.

The ONS data released on Monday demonstrated very clearly that amongst the working age population, Covid-19 deaths are significantly more prevalent in some industries than others. Throughout the pandemic there have been many groups of workers, such as carers or those working in the justice sector, who have been more susceptible to Covid-19 through prolonged contact with others.

We need a clear recognition of the industrial element of the spread of Covid-19, and those that are at an increased risk because of it. We need more support for those with Covid-19, and that support extended to those suffering with “long Covid” and other long-term industrial illnesses. As these powers are devolved, we hope to see the creation of an employment injuries system fit for 2021.”

Across Scotland 27,100 currently claim the benefit which will be called employment injuries assistance when the Scottish Government begin delivering the scheme, expected in autumn 2022. The UK Industrial Injuries Advisory Council manages and proposes the industrial diseases is included in the reserved benefit scheme, but Scottish Ministers are not permitted to work with the UK body going forward.

The consultation seeking public opinion and insights on the proposed bill runs from 10 November 2020 to 1 February 2021, and can be accessed here.

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