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McVey loses safety brief

Tom Wall09/10/2013 - 13:00

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Esther McVey lost the safety brief
Esther McVey lost the safety brief

The new employment minister Esther McVey has been stripped of health and safety responsibilities after it emerged she had been the director of a demolition firm served with two immediate prohibition notices.

Esther McVey, who this week was moved from disabilities minister to employment minister, was a director of her father’s firm J G McVey & Co Ltd. from February 2003 to March 2006.

In July 2003 safety inspectors ordered work to stop at a demolition site in Liverpool after they spotted McVey employees working on scaffolding without any ‘edge protection’.

In September of the same year inspectors again halted work at the firm’s demolition site as two employees were caught working at on scaffolding without ‘edge protection’.

Inspectors also found a worker using a chainsaw without suitable personal protective equipment.

In both cases inspectors served immediate prohibition notices, which are only issued when there is a ‘risk of serious personal injury’.

The employment minister role was given the health and safety brief in 2010. Both the former incumbents - Chris Grayling and Mark Hoban - had responsibility for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The HSE’s database reveals J G McVey & Co, which was based in Liverpool and closed in 2010, had breached construction safety regulations four times and the health and safety at work act three times since 2002

Professor Rory O’Neill of the occupational and environmental health research group at the University of Stirling said the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) may have changed it mind after EHN brought Ms McVey’s record to its attention.

‘After the reshuffle DWP discussed the roles division, handed Ms McVey the safety portfolio and subsequently updated its website to that effect. If EHN’s probing questions about her tarnished safety record as a company director have brought about a rethink, we can all breathe easier as a result,’ he said.

After the reshuffle on Monday the DWP website stated Ms McVey was responsible for the HSE. This changed on Wednesday afternoon (see below). 

A DWP spokesperson said: ‘It is standard practice for ministerial portfolios to be changed following a reshuffle.’

Ms McVey worked as television presenter on GMTV and children’s BBC before taking a greater role in the family business in 2003. She became the Conservative MP for Wirral West in her native Merseyside in 2010.

Disability minister Mike Penning will take responsibility for the HSE.

The DWP website on Wednesday morning:

McVey before

The DWP website on Wednesday afternoon: 

 McVey after


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