Category Archives: Blog

Hazards Campaign calls for urgent cut to killer silica dust limit

The national Hazards Campaign is urging the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to halve the workplace exposure limit for silica dust, a move it says will save 4,000 lives a year.

The campaign’s call came in response to a new ‘Choked’ report from Hazards magazine. This presents evidence for cutting the current legal limit of 0.1 mg/m3 for respirable crystalline silica to no more than 0.05 mg/m3, a move the report says would dramatically reduce the incidence of the lung scarring occupational disease silicosis, lung cancer, autoimmune diseases and other silica-related conditions.

Hazards reviewed the international scientific literature and internal HSE documents to calculate the annual excess silica-related death toll resulting from HSE’s repeat refusal to switch to and enforce the tighter standard, instead sticking with a level it admits comes with “significant risks”.

The report reveals that HSE’s own internal reports estimate the silicosis risk for workers is six times higher at the current HSE limit of 0.1 mg/m3, calculated at 30 cases per 100 workers exposed compared to just five per 100 at the tighter 0.05 mg/m3 standard. The United States and a number of other jurisdictions already work to the safer standard.

The Hazards Campaign is asking supporters to send an online postcard to Sarah Albon, the new chief executive of the HSE. Over 600,000 workers in the UK are regularly exposed to silica at work which is created when cutting, grinding drilling or polishing, natural substances such as rocks and sand and is a major constituent in bricks, tiles and concrete and materials. At least one-in-five workers in these jobs – and in some like stonemasonry and construction, possibly half – are exposed at or above the current deadly UK limit.

Choked! The evidence for introducing a lifesaving new silica dust exposure limit, Hazards, Number 147, September 2019.
ACTION: Send an e-postcard to HSE demanding it introduce a more protective silica standard no higher than 0.05mg/m³ and with a phased move to 0.025mg/m³.

Workers lives and health is at risk as watchdog budgets are halved

The Hazards Campaign has signed this letter about the UK’s collapse of enforcement and checking on employers and  manufacturers.  We support Unchecked UK because we want the hard fought for and won protective laws intended to keep us safe  at work,  at home, in the environment and community, when eating drinking and breathing, and when using products and services, to be properly enforced.

Since 2010 Coalition and Tory governments have indulged in an orgy of slashing the enforcement budgets of the HSE and Local Authority watchdogs and extracting their teeth.

The system intended to protect workers’ lives and health in the UK is essentially broken, workers are harmed daily, and those most at risk now have no reasonable prospect of enforcement of their basic human right to safe and healthy work. Employers cannot be trusted. UK Governments have slashed workers’ lifeline and left an increasing trail of injuries, ill-health and death from despair at the brutish working conditions employers provide when no-one is checking on them.

The system intended to protect workers’ lives and health in the UK is essentially broken. Workers are harmed daily, and those most at risk now have no reasonable prospect of enforcement of their basic human right to safe and healthy work.

Employers cannot be trusted to comply with even the most basic health and safety law.. UK Governments have slashed workers’ lifeline and left an increasing trail of injuries, ill-health and death from despair at the brutish working conditions employers provide when no-one is checking on them.

Unchecked news release, letter to The Times and briefing, The UK’s enforcement gap, 20 August 2019. The Times. Hazards Campaign manifesto.

Book now for the National Hazards 2019 conference, 26-28 July

The 2019 National Hazards Conference, billed as the UK’s “biggest and best educational and organising event for trade union safety reps and activists”, will be held in Stoke-on-Trent from 26-28 July. The theme this year is ‘Cleaning up toxic work’ in increasingly insecure workplaces.

Speakers include Amanda Hawes, a US lawyer and victims’ advocate who specialises in occupational and environmental health compensation cases, world-renowned chemical safety and occupational cancer expert professor Andrew Watterson of Stirling University, former TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson, BFAWU environment officer Sarah Woolley, Unite member and TGI Fridays activist Claire Trevor and GMB health and safety director Dan Shears.

Hazards Campaign conference, 26-28 July 2019, Keele University, Stoke-on-Trent. Hazards 2019 programme and booking form.

United Kingdom: FACK statement on International Workers’ Memorial Day

Workplace victim support and campaign group Families Against Corporate Killers (FACK) has issued a statement to mark International Workers’ Memorial Day 28 April 2019.

Selected quotes:

“When someone dies in a work-related incident, it’s not something that happened to a family. It is something that continues to happen. Not just for weeks or months. But for years…decades…maybe even generations.”

“Ensure the lessons to be learned from their deaths are taught over and over so that the greatest legacy of all can be built for this and future generations, a world of work that is safer and healthier: life-giving, not life-ending.”

For further information and to support FACK, contact Hilda Palmer, Facilitator for FACK: Tel 0161 636 7557

Hazards Campaign Workers’ Memorial Day 2019 posters

The Hazards Campaign, in conjunction with Hazards Magazine, has produced two striking International Workers’ Memorial Day 2019 posters. They are available in A4 and A3 sizes from the Campaign. Posters are free but postage will need to be paid on larger orders.  Order here. 

They can viewed on the Hazards magazine website at higher resolution. Poster 1 and Poster 2

Posters are free but  postage will need to be paid on larger orders. As a guide 25 x A4 posters OR 12 x A3 posters will cost £1.50 first class postage. Call us for a price: 0161 636 7558

Send Order to: Hazards Campaign, c/o GMHC, Windrush Millennium Centre, 70 Alexandra Road, Manchester M16 7WD
or janet@gmhazards.org.uk

Resources: Stress and mental ill health in the workplace

Challenging stress Work related stress and mental ill health are major work safety and health issues. These resources, produced by Hazards Campaign, are intended to assist trade unions in negotiating a comprehensive policy and strategy on mental health which includes a strategy for preventing work related stress and mental ill health, supporting individuals at work with mental ill health and providing a positive mental health work environment.

Documents for download

A manifesto for a health and safety system fit for workers: Decent jobs and decent lives

NEWS RELEASE 9th January 2019 for immediate use

Hazards Campaign launches Manifesto for a health and safety system fit for workers: Decent jobs and decent lives

The Hazards Campaign believes the British health and safety system is broken. Workers are harmed daily just for going to work to earn a living, and many now have no realistic prospect of enforcement of their basic human right to go to work and come home alive and well.

Work contributes to a huge amount of public ill-health, to health inequality, lower life expectancy, less years of healthy life kills over 50,000 people in the UK each year, makes millions ill, injures over half a million and the quality of jobs contributes to poverty and ill-health.  But all of this is preventable with the right framework of strong laws, strict enforcement and support for active worker and union participation will have massive payback for workers, employers and whole economy.  The current political situation has given us an opportunity to place health and safety firmly back on the political agenda,” says the campaign’s Janet Newsham.  “An opportunity to address our concerns, to discuss what we want from regulation, enforcement, to support trade union safety reps and how workers should be treated with more dignity and be able to organise and respond collectively.”

“We are launching our Manifesto for health and safety fit for workers, decent jobs and decent lives for all with three clear demands on the current and future governments. To ensure decent jobs and lives for all, and to fix the broken health and safety system, government must by do three key things:

  1. End deregulation and restore regulation and enforcement as a social good
  2. Develop a health and safety system based on prevention, precaution and participation of strong active unions.
  3. Provide real, enforceable employment and safety rights to ensure good health and safety in low paid and precarious work by enforcement agencies working together.

“The Manifesto is a clear guide to action that must be taken to protect all workers by restoring good regulation and enforcement, revamping the independence, funding and action of the HSE and Local Authority enforcement agencies, empowering trade unions and safety reps who have the biggest impact on making work safer and healthier, and ensuring links between health and safety and employment inspections to deal with the exploitation of workers in the low paid, precarious economy.

“The Manifesto sets out in detail what must be done to achieve this.  After Grenfell no-one can be in any doubt as to the deadly dangers of deregulation and it must be halted and reversed.  Developing a health and safety system based on prevention, precaution and participation of strong active unions includes the organising demands of  the updated Hazards Campaign charter and extends it. The link between precarious low paid work and poor health and safety must be acknowledged as a huge risk for workers’ lives and health must be addressed through enforcement of health and safety and employment issues.”

“We call for increased enforcement with more resources, and more, more accessible inspectors, employment rights with collective representation from day one on the job, and an end to zero hours, precarious work. An end to all the lying, dishonest, unevidenced rhetoric  used to justify the deregulation of health and safety.

“We want the purpose and mission of HSE to be one sole aim – to prevent injury, ill-health and death caused by work, no constraints of having to consider business interests, and to use its teeth to enforce that strictly and be effective and active in the new precarious 21st Century workplace.  The HSE must be made a real champion of workers’ lives and health and the whole health and safety system a proactive, preventive, precautionary, workers’ participatory project with ambitious aims to make work safer and healthier.”

“We want workers to be given much greater control over the circumstances under which they work and rights from day one. Give workers and union safety reps more power to take action in the workplace by abolishing all anti-trade union legislation, enforcing the Safety Representatives and Safety Committee Regulations and extending and enhancing them with, for example,  the right to stop the job.”

Janet added “We want the current government to take heed of where they have gone wrong, how deadly deregulation must end now, and to use our Manifesto to fix the broken system.  If they won’t  do this,  they must explain why.  We want other political parties to adopt the Manifesto and set out their plans to make this happen ready for the next General Election.  We want trade unions to adopt it, support it and campaign with us to make a health and safety system fit for all workers, for decent jobs and decent lives for all

For more information contact  Janet Newsham and Hilda Palmer, Hazards Campaign Secretariat c/o Greater Manchester Hazards Centre  0161 636 7557/8 info@hazardscampaign.org.uk

The Hazards Campaign, established in 1987, is a network of worker oriented health and safety centres, individual activists &  groups working with workers, trade union safety reps, families & communities on all aspects of work-related safety & ill-health. It includes the Scottish Hazards Campaign, Greater Manchester & London Hazards Centres, the Asbestos Victims Support Groups, Construction Safety Campaign, Families Against Corporate Killers, trade unions safety reps and specialists and award-winning Hazards Magazine.  The Hazards Campaign brought International Workers Memorial Day to the UK in the 1990s, and runs the annual Hazards Conference , attracting  350 – 400 safety reps. The 9th Hazards Conference, Hazards  2018,  was held 27-29th July at Keele University with 350 union safety reps and activists participating #Haz2018

CONTACT Hazards Campaign Secretariat c/o GMHC,  Windrush Millennium Centre, 70 Alexandra Road, Manchester     M16 7WD  email:    Tel: 0161 636 7557

Fallen Tears – The unveiling of a new workers’ memorial stained glass window

As we begin organising for International Workers Memorial Day 2019, Greater Manchester Hazards Centre will be unveiling a memorial stained glass window on 23rd November at the People’s History Museum, Manchester, from 3pm to 5pm.

The window will be jointly  unveiled by Rebecca Long-Bailey, Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and founders of Families Against Corporate Killers, FACK,.

‘Fallen Tears’, and will be on permanent display in the Peoples History Museum, Left Bank, Spinningfields, Manchester M3 3ER

For more information about the unveiling and IWMD 2019 contact janet@gmhazards.org.uk or Tel: 0161 636 7558

Fallen Tears invitation

 

Nine demands for organising around safety: Hazards Campaign discussion document

The Hazards Campaign has developed a  safety campaigning document  based around nine major organising demands. It is a working document intended to stimulate discussion, educate, agitate, organise and politicise health and safety.

 “It is a living, working document.”

Please participate, contribute to improving it and use it to stop work killing, injuring and making us ill. If you have any comments or suggestions please add them to this post or contact us by email. 

The nine major demands are:

  1. Full enforcement and extension of the role and statutory functions of TU Safety Reps
  2. Improvement and strengthening of Health, Safety and Welfare Regulations
  3. Enforcement of Health, Safety and Welfare Regulations
  4. Just treatment for victims of health and safety crime
  5. Decent work (good pay and conditions) for all workers
  6. Government  to strengthen and promote good health, safety and welfare in communities and workplaces
  7. Strongest level of International regulations and standards on occupational health, safety and welfare
  8. Strengthen and increase participation in International Workers Memorial Day
  9. Increase the reach of our message  and demands

Read the full document ‘Hazards Campaign organising demands’

URGENT – we need more people at the ‘Breathless’ – Asbestos Film Premiere 27 Oct 2018 @ 4 pm

The UK premiere of an award-winning documentary called “Breathless” on the impact of asbestos in the developing world countries will take place on Saturday 27th October in Central London, followed by a discussion including the United Nations Rapporteur for toxics, Baskut Tuncak.

Breathless, which had its global premiere at the International Film Festival in Brussels in June this year, aims to show how asbestos companies cynically expanded to the less-developed world in order to perpetuate a dangerous industry for profit.

In India, the asbestos industry continues to expand which will cause asbestos-related deaths for decades to come according to the film makers.

The documentary from the Storyhouse production company, tells of Eric Jonckheere, whose mother, father and two brothers died from mesothelioma, who travels to the largest asbestos dump in India to find a community affected by the same Belgian company.

It is a story of profit over people, but also of how ordinary people can stand up to corporations.

Krishnendu Mukherjer, a dual qualified barrister from Doughty Street Chambers, travels to India with Eric and also explains how the asbestos industry spied on him and other campaigners who campaign against the asbestos industry and spread knowledge regarding dangers of asbestos to life.

As you know, I’m a partner at Leigh Day, and my father died of the asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma.  This documentary comes at a crucial time and will assist in highlighting to the world the asbestos industry’s continued threat to life by exposing men, women and children to asbestos.  The film shows children playing in the asbestos dump in India.

Breathless will be shown at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, The Mall, London on Saturday 27th October 2018 from 4 pm.

The trailer for the movie can be viewed here

Accordingly,  I suggest  you or some of your colleagues may wish to attend so that they become aware of the issues.  Many asbestos campaigners and some medics I know are already attending

The tickets are only £12 and can be purchased here: https://www.ica.art/on/films/breathless-discussion.

If anyone requires any further information, please do not hesitate to contact me on 0207 650 1166 / 07776 132718.

Please also tweet and/or insert on your website to spread the word.

Regards

Harminder

Harminder Bains, Partner

Leigh Day