A MOTHER whose steeplejack son died in an industrial chimney blast will give a speech to oppose Government cuts to health and safety.

Linda Whelan, founder of Families Against Corporate Killers (Fack) has been campaigning for improved workplace safety since the death of her son Craig in 2002.

Now Mrs Whelan, from Willington in County Durham, has been invited by construction unions Unite and UCATT to be a guest speaker at a day of lobbying in the Houses of Parliament.

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Mrs Whelan will travel to London to give a speech about the importance of workplace safety after the Government announced cuts to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), whose aim is to ensure employers abide with regulations to protect workers from harm.

The Government has reduced the HSE’s budget by 35 per cent, resulting in 11,000 fewer workplace inspections each year.

The authorities claim the move will save funds as well as reducing the burden on employers, many of whom are already struggling due to the economic conditions.

But the two unions and Mrs Whelan are adamant that any cuts will only increase the risk to workers.

The Northern Echo:
WORK TRAGEDY: Craig Whelan

Craig Whelan, 23, was killed when equipment he and another steeplejack, 44-year-old Paul Wakefield from Nottingham, were using caused the interior of an industrial chimney in Bolton, Greater Manchester, to ignite.

The pair, who were dismantling the chimney, fell 100ft after the fireball severed the cables of their hoist.

Three managers were subsequently fined £17,000 for breaching safety regulations and Mrs Whelan said the deaths would have been avoided had proper rules been followed.

She will be speaking on behalf of bereaved families at the Save Our Safety lobbying day being held on Tuesday, June 11.

Mrs Whelan said: “I want to tell the Government what these cuts will really mean.

“We are going back to the Victorian times where an employee has no rights which is only going to make things worse for the working man.

“The burden is on the families who lose their loved ones and all those who are injured in the work place.

“By reducing the number of inspections the Government is giving bandit employers a licence to do what they want, and it will be the employees and their families who will suffer.”