The TUC is calling on safety campaigners to challenge a government safety strategy that it says “will lead to more work-related deaths, injuries and ill-health”.

TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson has warned “there has never been a more worrying time for health and safety”, adding that he believes that four decades of political consensus around the importance of regulations that protect all workers “has begun to fall apart”.

Writing in Hazards magazine, Robertson calls for a nationwide day of action on 28 April, Workers’ Memorial Day.

He writes: “Political interference, cuts and the overall deregulatory agenda mean the HSE will lose much of its effectiveness and will suffer long-term damage, while unions will find it much more difficult to operate.”

He added: “This is not necessarily a deliberate plan by the coalition government to destroy the health and safety system. It is instead a by-product of a more general anti-worker, pro-business, anti-public sector agenda which is seen just as clearly in their approach to employment rights, public spending, taxation and pensions. It also comes from a lack of understanding of the workplace and occupational disease. However, whatever the motive, the effect will be the same – unless we stop it.”