Defence Secretary Phillip Hammond has today confirmed the immediate withdrawal of British troops from Afghanistan on the receipt of a negative health and safety workplace assessment. The documents were released late yesterday afternoon, and troops had packed their bags by 9pm local time.
The Rt Honourable Hammond had already been under pressure to bring home soldiers following depressing responses to the MoD staff feedback survey earlier this year. The general tone of the survey showed a workforce that felt overworked and underpaid, and did not believe that their office managers were visible enough in their places of work.
The damning new report stated that troops were not provided with the correct style of ergonomic chair, and that the room temperature was often higher than the acceptable office level. On at least two occasions there were examples of ‘potential hazards at workstations’ where troops were at risk of getting minor electric shocks from a small nodding dog perched on a communications desk. The inspections also uncovered the lack of hi-vis vests for fire wardens, and the wrong coloured plasters in the first aid kit.
In an interview following the release of the report, Lance-Corporal Keith Square at Camp Bastion commented on some of the problems experienced by troops, especially regarding times when soldiers had been asked to lift boxes of explosives without proper manual lifting training. “It boggles the mind to think that every day we work in an environment where we can’t even be sure that our remaining windows will be cleaned on a weekly basis.”
Ministry of Defence officials were unable to comment this morning, as the full Whitehall staff force were preparing to wrap the troops in cotton wool as soon as they stepped off the planes.