The Centre for Corporate Accountability has revealed that, in the last 20 months, 9 apprentice workers - all under the age of 23 - have been killed on work placements as part of Government-funded courses. It is not known how many apprentices have been injured.
One of the deaths has resulted in a director and company being prosecuted for manslaughter. The trial is due to take place later this year at Exeter Crown Court. Another has resulted in the company pleading guilty to health and safety offences, whilst five of the deaths continue to be under investigation.
At the time, all of the apprentices were undertaking the work-placement part of their course/apprenticeship, and were on vocational courses funded by the government.s Learning and Skills Council, which funds all post-16 training and education for young people.
The manner in which these young people have died is truly shocking, but sadly unsurprising, given this government.s record. Health and Safety Executive (HSE) figures show that last year, 21 workers between the ages of 16 to 24 who died at work - a 20% up on the previous year. Details about the ‘apprentice' deaths emerged as the Government announced a major expansion in the funding of apprenticeships. It also comes at a time when the HSE has been forced - due to cuts in government spending - to reduce its activities. Apparently, the HSE already has too few resources, and has opted to try and persuade employers to be safe, even though its own research shows that enforcement is a more effective strategy. The reality is that the only way the wholesale slaughter that is now taking place in the workplace will end, is by rebuilding workplace organisation as the means of forcing management to make changes. Ultimately, workplaces will only be truly safe when capitalism is got rid of and replaced with a system based on collective workers' control.