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.
Workplace victim support and campaign group Families Against Corporate Killers (FACK) has issued a statement to mark International Workers’ Memorial Day 28 April 2019.
“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
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
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.
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 lifekills 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
End deregulation and restore regulation and enforcement as a social good
Develop a health and safety system based on prevention, precaution and participation of strong active unions.
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.
“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
“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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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
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
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:
Full enforcement and extension of the role and statutory functions of TU Safety Reps
Improvement and strengthening of Health, Safety and Welfare Regulations
Enforcement of Health, Safety and Welfare Regulations
Just treatment for victims of health and safety crime
Decent work (good pay and conditions) for all workers
Government to strengthen and promote good health, safety and welfare in communities and workplaces
Strongest level of International regulations and standards on occupational health, safety and welfare
Strengthen and increase participation in International Workers Memorial Day
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.
Safety Reps @ 40: Still Vital to the Future of Safe and Healthy Work!
Hazards Conference 2018
The 29th Hazards Conference was held at Keele University, 27–29 July, 2018. It is the UK’s biggest and best educational and organising event for trade union safety reps and activists. It consisted of a mixture of plenary sessions, meetings and a comprehensive workshop programme. Delegates took the opportunity to exchange experience and information with, and learn from, safety reps
and activists from other unions, sectors and jobs across the UK. Hazards 2018 addressed some of the most important issues facing workers providing practical skills, improving knowledge and giving delegates a new confidence to conduct their roles in the workplace.
Find below a full report of the conference compiled by Janet Newsham and Hilda Palmer – it includes numerous links to course materials, presentations and resources.
The Hazards Conference opened with a great session on the Friday evening, when more than 320 delegates from all over the UK, from different industrial sectors, different workplaces and different trade unions registered and attended the first plenary at this year’s Hazards Conference.
Each delegate received a bag full of important and relevant information and the bag proudly proclaimed ‘You gotta fight for the right to safety!’ Included in the bag were the Hazards Campaign leaflets on supporting solidarity action with ‘Fast food workers’ and ‘Care workers’. Also a newly developed leaflet on SRSC Regs – a sort of mini brown book with information about key dates, links and contacts which reps can hang around their necks on lanyards and further copies can be ordered from GMHC – email@example.com or 0161 636 7558.
The Hazards Campaign is developing a charter and the first draft of the charter was shared with delegates for further comment.
Finally along with important information from campaign groups, trade unions, there was also the latest copy of Hazards Magazine.
This is one of the most important publications for health and safety reps to keep up with the latest developments, news and topics.
Finally, all delegates received a Hazards 2018 commemorative badge.
The Falling Tears stained glass window
The Friday plenary was chaired by Doug Russell USDAW National Health and Safety Officer; we were moved to tears by Louise Taggart whose brother sadly died as a result of being electrocuted at work. Louise is a founder member of Families Against Corporate Killing (FACK), an organisation set up in 2006 to fight for justice for all families and for safer workplaces for everyone. Louise’s brother Michael Adamson was killed at work in 2005 aged 26 years. She said she wanted to make his life count and to stop anyone else suffering the way her family had. Louise used the Hazards Campaign: The Whole Story and gave many examples of the deaths of people who are invisible in the HSE figures, because the HSE do not include them as workplace deaths in the records that they count. These include people who are killed in road traffic incidents, in air crashes, those killed at sea, those who die as a result of suicide which is workplace related. And the thousands who die as a result of illnesses because of their work or workplace. This was such a moving and powerful contribution and there were not many dry eyes in the hall at the end of her contribution.
Our international speaker was Asli Odman from Istanbul Workers’ Health and Work Safety Assembly. Because of the volatile political situation in Turkey, we were uncertain Asli would be able to leave Turkey to come to the UK to speak, so her contribution was even more valued and welcome. Asli spoke about the large numbers of workers dying at work and the work they are doing in Turkey to record deaths and investigate patterns and causes. She explained that there is a problem getting information from the Government and their organisation has to scan local and national press to find out about the work related deaths. They also actively support workers seeking justice. Everyday there are at least 20/30 deaths due to work related reasons which Asli described as being like a war in workplaces. They call their work related deaths ‘work related murders’! Last year 2006 people were murdered and this included 453 in the construction industry. She also explained that women are largely invisible in the figures because their work is often not registered as being done in a workplace and therefore injuries are not recorded. Asli said that one of the reasons for poor health and safety in the workplace is because of a decreasing number of trade union members. Membership of unions has dropped from 24% to 4% in the last 30 years. Annually they produce a book detailing the deaths of workers. Finally every month they hold a vigil to all those workers who have been killed. Asli explained that she has been inspired by Hazards Magazine, International Workers Memorial Day and Families Against Corporate Killing.
Steve Tombs our final speaker on Friday evening spoke passionately about why Grenfell Tower tragedy is social murder. He said that Grenfell is a symbol of the consequences of deregulation, austerity, cuts and capitalism’s contempt. Steve spoke about the convictions which have already taken place because of Grenfell. There have been 7 and are nothing to do with the fire. He spoke about the gap between rich and poor. The people still waiting to be rehoused despite promises, the physical, emotional, psychological, cultural and financial harm being done to those affected by the fire. He spoke about the long term systematic attack on regulation which Governments must have known would consequentially result in death. It was foreseeable and that therefore this is social murder.
Delegates at the Hazards 2018 conference stood united in solidarity with all the victims of the Grenfell Tower tragedy fighting for justice and also with the Fire Brigades Union members being scrutinised unfairly in the public inquiry. We demand that those who are responsible for the deaths, injuries and continued trauma of families, friends, neighbours and firefighters are held accountable. Those responsible for the deregulation of fire safety, the lack of enforcement of building regulations, those who treated residents of Grenfell Tower with total disregard for their safety and welfare and those whose inhumanity created the foreseen tragedy of the fire. We demand justice for Grenfell!
A day packed with workshops, meetings and campaign meetings with the evening free for network and discussion. The day began early with two workshops followed by a main meeting and then a campaign meeting.
Saturday – Workshops
(a) Reps Functions and employers duties, Julie Weekes (b) Reps Functions and employers duties, Michelle Marshall
Meeting 1: From menstruation to menopause! Why do we need a gender sensitive approach to occupational safety and health.
Chair: Tracey Harding – Meeting 1 – Links
Speakers: Lynsey Mann and Andrea Oates – more
Meeting 2: How do we challenge the consequences of privatisation, commercialisation and marketisation of the deregulation agenda and the selective enforcement of health and safety laws? Chair: Hilda Palmer – Meeting 2 Report
Speakers: Neil Hope-Collins and Steve Tombs
Meeting 3: Why is transparency in the supply chain necessary in advancing the health, safety and welfare of workers both nationally and internationally?
Chair: Sara Marsden
Speakers: Kathy Jenkins – Meeting 3 report, Stirling Smith – more and Asli Odman
Meeting 4: Is mental ill health a consequence of the intensification of working practices and bad management in our workplaces and what should we do about it?
Chair: Ian Tasker
Speakers: Dan Shears – more, Joan McNulty – more and Adam Lincoln – more
Meeting 1: From Menstruation To Menopause with the GMB
Saturday – Campaign Meetings
Campaign meeting 1: Climate Change and Air Pollution
Speakers: Adam Lincoln and Graham Petersen
Campaign meeting 2: Why should Trade Unions use health and safety as an organising tool? Chair: Janet Newsham – meeting report
Speakers: Neil Hope-Collins, Ian Hodson – YouTube and Ali Waqaar
Campaign meeting 3: International solidarity to combat attacks on workers: lives and health Speakers: Kathy Jenkins – meeting report, Sara Marsden and Asli Odman
Sunday was a ‘barn storming’ morning with inspirational, interesting and dynamic speakers.
Although on the face of it, 5 is a lot of speakers – they were all great to listen to, they held our attention and the two hours passed as though it had been just minutes. Each speaker received a standing ovation and the audience was mesmerised and listened intently to each individual contribution, laughing where appropriate, indignant where there was cause and overall inspired by the lessons, leaving ready to challenge and improve the health and safety in their workplaces and provide solidarity to those in other unions and other workplaces.
Sunday began with a presentation by Hilda Palmer to Ian Draper of the Hazards Campaign Silver badge in recognition of his work in the UK Stress Network and his work on behalf of the Hazards Campaign in the European Work Hazards Network. Ian then drew the raffle for the Leigh Day IPad.
Janet Newsham introduced the session by saying that the conference was more than any other trade union conference and that she hoped everyone felt that they belonged to the health and safety family of the Hazards Campaign. A family with a common aim of keeping our friends and colleagues safe at work and with a network that extends beyond borders to sister organisations in places like Turkey, beyond sectors, industries, companies and organisations and brings everyone together to keep us all safe at work. Janet referred to the speech Hilda Palmer had made previously when she said health and safety was all about love and that no one should suffer the heartache that Louise Taggart had so movingly spoken about at the Friday plenary session. No one should suffer never seeing their loved ones again because of the negligence and total disregard of workers safety. And also the safety of our friends and families as they sleep in their homes, eat out or enjoy their short period of leisure.
Kevin Rowan said that no one else does the role of health and safety reps. He said that if every rep carried out just one inspection a year that would be 100,000 inspections. The HSE carry out just 20,000 inspections. And of those they find 10,000 serious breaches! In a recent roadside inspection of lorries, 90% of the lorries inspected were not loaded correctly. Kevin said that Trade Unions have a legitimate voice and we need to champion our successes more.
Audrey White showed a clip from a film that was made about her with Glenda Jackson playing her part. It was about the sexual harassment of 4 women shop assistants when she was a manager at Lady at Lord John in Liverpool and her subsequent dismissal for challenging him. Audrey’s story is inspiring; she went on strike supported by local T&G trade union members from the docks and road transport. She picketed the store and eventually after escalating the action won her case. Audrey spoke about why sexual harassment is a health and safety issue and the continuing need to challenge it.
Ali Waqaar, a McDonalds McStriker spoke about the health and safety challenges for young workers and in particular the dire conditions that many fast food workers are facing in ‘warzone’ like conditions from overwhelming queues of people, violence, drunkenness, and the consequential burns, injuries and stress caused to the workers. He accused McDonalds of victimisation and the need for workers to join trade unions and challenge these unacceptable conditions. Ali described himself as a ‘warrior poet’ – he said working in McDonalds was like the current in the ocean – always moving, always asked to do something, lift something, orders flooding through.
Dave Smith spoke about the importance of collective action. Dave writes a regular column, Organising 101, in Hazards Magazine which illustrates collective and creative action that could be taken to challenge unsafe and unhealthy working practices. He spoke about some of the challenges he had faced in the construction industry where in the 70’s one construction worker died every day and now 38 deaths a year from incidents and we can celebrate our role in that decline in deaths. He emphasised the need to continue to hold these companies to account. He said it was never about one person but always about the collective and that we are on the side of the angels.
Ian Hodson gave a brilliant speech to end the conference. He spoke about the importance of not blaming migrant workers for deteriorating pay and conditions at work. He thanked the Hazards Campaign for keeping health and safety at the top of trade unions agendas when health and safety was being attacked, deregulated and undermined. Ian recognised the important role of health and safety reps and trade union activists and said that we will make a difference in our workplaces if we stand together and work collectively.
The conference closed at 12.00pm. There has been some great feedback: one or two issues to improve on for next year and some great suggestions to consider, but overall summed up by one new delegate as ‘First Hazards experience did not disappoint + would definitely return again. A must for safety reps!’
A final thanks to all the staff at Keele for their support, patience and response to our many requests and challenges. A big thanks to all the GMHC staff for organising, administrating and delivering the conference. Thanks to all the volunteers who run the registration desk, help, support people with access needs and generally run to respond to delegates needs. Thanks to the workshop, meeting and campaign meeting speakers and tutors and for the plenary speakers who have inspired and challenged us all. Thanks to our photographers, and video recorders: Jawad, Nick and Cath. A special thanks to all the Trade Unions – nationally, regionally, at branch and workplace, Trade Union Councils, Hazards Centres, Solicitors and other campaigning organisations and individuals for supporting and sponsoring the conference. Finally, thanks to the hundreds of delegates for attending, contributing, networking and sharing their knowledge, challenges and successes with other delegates.
YouTube and PowerPoint resources from the Sunday Plenary