Category Archives: Blog

The UK Government response is like a car skidding uncontrollably towards a brick wall

Hazards Campaign – News Release,

22nd September 2020 (No embargo)

At this week’s Hazards Campaign Thursday zoom ‘Where are the sirens?’, Janet Newsham chair of the Hazards Campaign will say “‘Applying the brakes?’ This is like the horrific images of the tsunami relentlessly and effortlessly swamping the beach town properties engulfing everything and anyone in their way . Or a car skidding uncontrollably towards the brick wall with the inevitable deadly consequences.  Brakes applied too little too late.  Warning sirens were not pressed before the wave of death swamps the population.” (1)

Early in May the Hazards Campaign said ‘there is no conflict between economic recovery and health because a healthy economic recovery requires healthy workers and people’, but to achieve it then we warned there should be no easing of the lock-down until seven preconditions were met.(2)  These preconditions remain just as valid today.  This Government has learnt no lessons from the deaths, disabilities, and ill health it has failed to control.

Some individuals and workplaces have taken precautions over and above what has been announced by Government.  Whilst others following Government mixed messaging, have carried on their business and put lives at risk without any caution.  It has led to workplace, school and community clusters.  Clusters that have led to the deaths of workers and increased the infection rate in local communities.

Our Government has been the sheep dragged kicking and screaming towards measures that will save some lives, but their sights have been firmly and continue to be firmly on the target of keeping the economy going and the result will be devastating financially for many businesses who will see extended economic disruption as our communities are awash with the virus.

In June, the Hazards Campaign challenged the Government’s easing of conditions that workers would be safe to return to workplaces under.  When the Government reduced the 2m distance to 1m or hardly any physical distancing between workers, we challenged this based on the scientific evidence available.  It was clear that there needed to be a precautionary approach to physical distancing, as aerosols were a far greater transmission risk of spreading the virus, especially inside buildings. (3)  We also called on the Government to adopt a zero Covid-19 policy. (4)

‘Staying Alert! what a nonsense.  Our Government hasn’t been alert to any of the advice until much of it is too late.  They locked down too early, they didn’t lock down all non-essential businesses.  Too preoccupied with the economy they went on to release the lock down again too early, they forced children back to unsafe schools and then workers back to unsafe workplaces.  They have blamed young people and families for spreading the virus, when their messages of go back to the pub, eat out and return to public transport and unsafe workplaces should have been the real focus of concern and stringent action.’

At the beginning of August the Hazards Campaign warned about the risks in schools and that it would drive up Covid-19 cases if the Government ignored the outbreak risks. (5) Then at the end of August we again challenged the Governments failure to acknowledge and act on workplace cluster warnings by forcing children back to school so that parents could return to work and as a consequence workplace cluster outbreaks were increasing. (6)

The Hazards Campaign followed that up with a joint report with the scientist group Independent Sage and called for ‘No workers to return to workplaces unless Covid safety plans are in place’. (7)
All these warnings and predictions about what would happen if they were ignored are unfortunately being proved right.  The Government has chosen to carry on regardless.

As the science has firmly moved from better hygiene to aerosol risks, the Government has been silent, even complicit in their lack of instruction to workplaces to ensure that the transmission of the virus in aerosols is controlled via low occupation, better ventilation and face mask/PPE wearing.  While Independent Sage and Hazards Campaign document of three weeks ago said that workplaces (which include schools, pubs, cafes etc) all workplaces needed to be Covid-safe and certified before opening, the Government ignored such advice.

Throughout the pandemic the Hazards Campaign have argued that a precautionary approach was needed to ensure the control of the transmission of the virus, that the Government had to break the cycle of transmission with full lock down of non-essential business and that they needed to follow a Zero-Covid strategy.

‘We have proof now that we need that Zero-Covid strategy,  we need Covid-safe workplaces and we need a fresh Government with their eyes wide open to proper defence of the population and away from a knee jerked, back of the fag packet after a pint down the local pub analysis and inaction.’

Notes to editors:

Hazards Campaign Thursday talk. Where are the sirens? Can the tsunami of work clusters be stopped?

Join our Hazards Campaign Thursday Talk

Featuring  speakers from the labour and trade union community
Thursday 24th September – 18.00-19.30pm

Can the tsunami of work clusters be stopped to ensure the health, safety and welfare of workers and our communities, when  the Government is still waging a class war?

We will be discussing how we prioritise workers’ health and safety in an unfair society.

To book a place and receive the link to the meeting please go to  eventbrite at:


For further information relevant to the speakers and subject:
* Hazards Campaign News Release:
Hazards Campaign and Independent SAGE call for no workers to return to workplaces unless Covid safety plans are in place

* Joint Independent Sage and Hazards Charter and document

twitter @hazardscampaign


VIDEO AND RESOURCES: Is two metre physical distancing enough? Aerosol transmission and other emerging issues

On 11 September 2020 the Hazards Campaign held a Thursday Talk Zoom event titled: “Is two metre physical distancing enough? Aerosol transmission and other emerging issues.”

Speakers were Professor Andrew Watterson – Stirling Unversity, Hilda Palmer – Hazards Campaign and Retired GP Jonathan Fluxman – Doctors in Unite.

The recording of the event can be viewed below:

PDFs of the speakers’ presentations are below:

Control of all routes of the SARS CoV-2 Virus, Hilda Palmer.

Airborne spread of Covid-19 and implications for the workplace, Jonathan Fluxman.

Keep your distance, Andrew Watterson

News release: Hazards Campaign and Independent SAGE call for no workers to return to workplaces unless Covid safety plans are in place

Hazards Campaign and Independent Sage call for no workers to return to workplaces unless Covid Safety Plans are in place and enforcement bodies have agreed them.

Press statement for immediate release

1st September 2020
Hazards campaign news release,1st September 2020 (No embargo)

The Hazards Campaign accurately predicted that the forced return to unsafe workplaces would fuel an explosion in workplace COVID19 outbreaks1. These continue to grow, now affecting hundreds more workers and their families in existing outbreaks with more new workplace clusters across the UK.

Another tranche of workplaces, schools, are due to open in England and Wales starting this week and the experience of Scotland with several serious school outbreaks highlights the dangers. The existing health and safety system is failing to protect workers communities and the economy.

The Hazards Campaign jointly presented a paper with Independent SAGE on how workers can safely return to workplaces on 28th August 2.  The paper calls for government investment in a tougher regulatory system to check up on employers, with more inspections and control by  the HSE and LA enforcement authorities to certify Covid-Safe workplaces before they open to ensure workers and communities are safe.

The Chair of the Hazards Campaign Janet Newsham said “Thousands of workers have become ill and hundreds have died because risks of Covid-19 infection and transmission haven’t been controlled in the workplace. As hundreds of thousands of workers are urged to travel and return to indoor workplaces with colleagues, after a period of working alone from home, unless there is external verification that employers have properly assessed and controlled all the risk of infection and transmission, including from aerosols 3, there will be more outbreaks and  start local restrictions.

“The joint report includes a Covid-19 safe workplace charter which concentrates on three main areas: Employers responsibilities, Regulators responsibilities and Central Government responsibilities.  In addition to certification of workplaces, the charter calls on Government to legislate for ‘Roving Safety Reps’, increased funding and resources for enforcement, and sufficient financial support for workers to be able to self-isolate or take sick leave without loss of earnings.

“For weeks now we have been recording clusters of workers who have tested positive, become ill or died from Covid-19 and the numbers involved clearly indicate they have become infected in workplaces.  The reasons are because workplaces have failed to provide the necessary control of transmission risks -physical distancing, increased cleaning and control of aerosol transmission by increased and improved ventilation with fewer workers in confined indoor spaces.  They are also because workers have no safe travel to work or they are unable to isolate or take sick leave when they are unwell or have been in contact with an infected person because they do not get full pay either having to rely on Statutory Sick Pay or not entitled to even that pittance. Rapid spread of workplace infections is also caused by the ineffective national privatised  Find, Track, Trace and Isolate system in place, and the local much more effective systems are starved of cash and resources.

“If these incidents are not recorded, investigated and acted on then improvements to working conditions that spread the disease will not be implemented fast enough to stop the spread and more workplaces will have to lock-down.  This isn’t good for the health of workers or the economy.

“Many employers have worked hard to ensure the mental and physical health of their workers during this pandemic, many working closely with their union safety reps but unless all employers control the risks then the virus will spread into the community and into other workplaces.

“The charter has the support of trade unions, the Society of Occupational Medicine and the Collegium Ramazzini and has been welcomed by the TUC.

“This is an important report and it is welcomed by the TUC.  Health and Safety is a paramount concern and employers, government and its agencies all need to take the right and necessary actions to minimise risk and prevent further coronavirus infections, support the economy and rebuild confidence.”

For more information, press only:
Contact: Janet Newsham
Tel: 0773 431 7158

Notes for Editors:
1. We predicted an explosion in workplace Covid-19 outbreaks- 2 weeks later that’s exactly what we’ve got
2 .Youtube recording of the presentation:
Joint Independent Sage and Hazards Campaign Report:
3. KEEP YOUR DISTANCE: Is two metres too far or not far enough to protect from COVID-19 and who benefits and who loses if it is reduced ? Hazards Campaign, 22nd June 2020

For more information:

The Hazards Campaign is a UK-wide network of resource centres and campaigners. The Hazards Campaign supports those organising and campaigning for justice and safety at work.

Contact details:

The Hazards Campaign
c/o Greater Manchester Hazards Centre
Windrush Millennium Centre
70 Alexandra Road
Manchester, M16 7WD
twitter @hazardscampaign


Report of the Hazards Campaign Thursday Talk – School Health is Community Health

On Thursday 20th August the Hazards Campaign held a zoom conference concentrating on how schools can ensure the health and safety of staff and pupils and therefore the health of its community during the pandemic, entitled School Health is Community Health.

Speakers included Jon Richards Unison National Secretary with responsibility for schools, Ruth Winters EIS organiser, Dawn Taylor NEU NEC member and Wayne Bates NASUWT National Organiser with responsibility for health and safety.

During the evening the chat box was kept open for attendees to post links and questions and comments, this has been collated into different topics and is detailed here.

We predicted an explosion in workplace Covid-19 outbreaks – two weeks later that’s exactly what we’ve got

We predicted an explosion in workplace outbreaks, as workers were forced back to work – two weeks later that is exactly what we’ve got

Hazards campaign news release, 20th August 2020 (No embargo)

The workplace is emerging as the new frontline for Covid-19 spread, after the UK government and health agencies ignored warnings on the dangers of a rush back to work, occupational health experts have warned.

Janet Newsham, the chair of the national Hazards Campaign says: ‘We’ve got an unprecedented abdication of responsibility by HSE, which has never before eschewed its enforcement responsibility this way, or denied oversight to protect workers in workplaces where deadly disease risks, carcinogens and major accident hazards can be encountered. They have been AWOL throughout the pandemic and as a result workers have died and many more have been left with long term serious ill health’.

The Hazards Campaign has raised concerns about the unsafe opening of workplaces, including schools. ‘While the community transmission is so high reopening of schools will massively increase contacts between potentially infected individuals and will lead to pressure for more people to return to workplaces, greatly increasing risks.’

Over the last four weeks, Public Health England (PHE) figures (1) show the ‘workplace’ has emerged as the second most common site of Covid-19 ‘situations/incidents’, trailing only care homes. PHE’s definition of workplaces does not include work-related Covid incidents in hospitals, schools or prisons, so under-estimates the real extent of occupationally-related cases.

Evidence elsewhere, including France (2) and Germany (3), show workplaces are the new frontline for virus spread. Without adequate protection, rights and oversight, we are going to give the pandemic a whole new lease of life and the economy will continue to be decimated. A recent report ‘COVID-19 clusters and outbreaks in occupational settings in the EU/EEA and the UK’ published on the 11th August, 2020 details some of the occupational outbreaks across Europe. (3)

The Hazards Campaign has been tracking workplace outbreaks and its dossier shows food production remains a major hotspot for outbreaks, but there is a clear indication that the problem is wider, with multiple clusters also occurring in factories, schools, hospitality and other sectors.

At the start of the outbreak we were promised a ‘Covid-Secure’ return to work. What we have got instead is government-driven stampede back into workplaces, without the necessary oversight or support for workers or for businesses. The Government are forcing children back into unsafe schools, so that parents can return to unsafe workplaces and the chaotic and irresponsible opening of pubs, clubs and gyms during a high transmission of a potentially fatal disease is madness. The Government must also ensure that all workers are able to access statutory sick pay and there is an extension of the furlough programme to restrict the transmission of the virus (4).

The Covid-19 workplace clusters that are now appearing all over the country, are being put down to individuals breaking the rules, but when that coincides with workplaces closing down, mass testing of workers and mass positive results of the same workers, then this is uncontrolled transmission of the virus in workplaces, especially where workers are working inside buildings with an aerosol risk of transmission. (5)

If our society is to open schools then the transmission must be low, and track, trace and isolate must be fully functioning at a high level of contact and all the risks in that workplace must be controlled at a precautionary level. The enforcement authorities must act now to ensure that employers can demonstrate that they are carrying out their health and safety legal duties. This cant be based on ‘suck it and see’, or on the body bags that pile up, where risks are not controlled. It has to be right first time, and it has to include the full control of all the known risks.

There is a lot more evidence to show the extent of transmission of the virus on surfaces, and by aerosols. (6) This means new ways of working, new facilities and more resources to keep work safe. It means working from home as far as possible, not using public transport unless essential, it means remote teaching and learning, it means utilising new and existing premises to spread people out, it means shift working and shift management, it means controlling and increasing ventilation, it means less people at a time in workplaces, it may mean more people working less hours or different hours and it means working with trade unions and safety representatives to identify and control all the risks.

We need a community, collective and carefully controlled response to stopping the transmission of the virus, so that we can eventually reduce the controls necessary, return to normal working and hopefully a vaccination is found.

Notes to editors

1. PHE Weekly Report, Week 33, released 14 August 2020
2. Workplaces – not parties – ‘the biggest source of coronavirus contagion in France’ The Local FR,  3rd August 2020
3. COVID-19 clusters and outbreaks in occupational settings in the EU/EEA and the UK, 11 August 2020,  European Centre for Diseases and Protection
4. Economic Aspects of the COVID-19 Crisis in the UK, The DELVE Initiative, 14 August 2020.
5. Recognizing and controlling airborne transmission of SARS‐CoV‐2 in indoor environments, Joseph G. Allen and Linsey C. Marr, Indoor Air, 19 June 2020.
6. KEEP YOUR DISTANCE: Is two metres too far or not far enough to protect from COVID-19 and who benefits and who loses if it is reduced ? Hazards Campaign, 22nd June 2020

Further information

Media enquiries

Janet Newsham
Tel: 07734 317 158


Hazards conference 2020 report – Viral Action

More than 370 delegates registered for our first ever zoom conference which was held on Saturday 1st August, 2020. Doug Russell the National Health and Safety Officer at USDAW chaired the opening plenary session and was joined by international speakers from Nepal, Hong Kong, Australia, US and Denmark after Louise Taggart spoke from FACK and also Shelly Asquith the newly appointed TUC health and safety policy officer. This provided an international and national picture of how Covid-19 pandemic was impacting on workers and how they were responding.

A recording of the plenary session can be found here or view below:

After the plenary session , there were four different workshops with a plethora of fantastic, engaging, interesting and inspiring speakers – notes from some of those presentations are available below.

Opening plenary
Covid-19 – Denmark, Janne Hansen, 3F
ANROEV response to Covid-19 , Ram Charitra Sah, ANROEV co-ordinator
Health and safety organizing during Covid-19, Peter Dooley, US National COSH.

Workshop 1 -Safety Reps taking the lead – during and after Covid-19

Workshop 2 – Fighting Inequality in Health and Safety
Why women are not the default male, Helen Lynn, Alliance for cancer prevention

Workshop 3 – Mental Health and Covid-19
Mental health and young workers, Janet Farrar, UCU
Deaths of workers by suicide should be reportable, Sarah Waters, University of Leeds

Workshop 4 – Toxics Out! Air pollution, just transition after Covid-19
Toxics out of work, Hilda Palmer, Hazards Campaign
Chemical bans,  Ted Smith, ICRT

Over 500 people participated in the different meetings during the day. The event was a brilliant opportunity to continue the Hazards Conference tradition of grass root activism which brings together trade union safety reps and officers, academics and health, safety and environmental activists and campaigners.

Useful links, resources and other shared information that were posted in the Zoom chat box, can be found in the Hazards Conference 2020 Report.

Many thanks to all those who spoke, chaired, participated and encouraged. It wasn’t our usual Keele event but it was an inspiring and unique event and I hope to see many of you next year in person at Keele.

Janet Newsham (On behalf of the Hazards Conference Organising Committee)

Hazards Conference 2021 will be on Friday 30th July to Sunday 1st August 2021

Studies undermine Williamson’s ‘little evidence’ claim on school risks

Hazards campaign news release, 11 August 2020 (No embargo)

A series of studies, including two in recent days from UK experts, discredit claims by education secretary Gavin Williamson that there is ‘little evidence’ of a Covid-19 transmission risk in schools, workplace safety advocates have warned.

The safe-to-return claim by Gavin Williamson is patently untrue and could drive an upturn in Covid-19 cases.

“The safe-to-return claim by Gavin Williamson is patently untrue and could drive an upturn in Covid-19 cases,” said Janet Newsham, the chair of the national Hazards Campaign. “The education secretary is either ignorant of or choosing to ignore considerable evidence of outbreak risks in schools.  He is also failing to acknowledge the detrimental consequences of a ‘stop-start’ disruption to schooling and the economy as local flare-ups continue.”

The campaigners point to a study1 published on 24 July that concluded there is “evidence of robust spread of SARS-CoV-2 in high schools, and more limited spread in primary schools. Some countries with relatively large class sizes in primary schools (eg. Chile and Israel) reported sizeable outbreaks in some of those schools.” The paper, co-authored by Muge Cevik from the NHS Lothian Infection Service and the University of St Andrews, noted “these reports suggest that classroom crowding and other factors related to social distancing in classrooms/schools may play a role in the spread of SARS-CoV-2 in primary schools. Those findings should have implications for school openings in different age groups of children, and they suggest the need to better protect adults over the age of 60 during the community spread of SARS-CoV-2.”

A second study2 published on 3 August by scientists from University College London (UCL) and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found current testing and contact tracing levels are not sufficient to prevent a second wave of coronavirus after schools reopen. The researchers, who found the track-trace-isolate system was not up to the task, warned: “Without sufficient coverage of a test-trace-isolate strategy the UK risks a serious second epidemic peak either in December or February.”

The Hazards Campaign is also concerned the move will coincide with a relaxation of lockdown rules and government pressure for a reduction in working from home. “The government is failing to take adequate account of a simultaneous wider return to work, which our tracking of UK workplace clusters indicates could be the focus for increasing local outbreaks in offices, factories and other workplaces,” Newsham said. “We have the double jeopardy of return to schools without the essential trace-trace-isolate system in place and a return to work with oversight by workplace safety regulators at a virtual standstill.”

Newsham concluded: “Education in the UK is being damaged by neglected and dangerous infrastructure, poorly resourced classrooms and education staff stressed-out through understaffing and overwork,” said Newsham. “Crowding kids back into these schools is a unnecessary gamble and could be counterproductive, setting back Covid-19 prevent efforts and lead to further shutdowns.”

Latest Public Health England figures3 show workplace cases are an increasing proportion of overall Covid-19 infections and the great majority of cases are in working age people.

Notes to editors

Hazards Campaign coronavirus hub:

  1. Edward Goldstein, Marc Lipsitch, Muge Cevik, On the effect of age on the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in households, schools and the community, medRxiv preprint, 24 July 2020. doi:
  2. Jasmina Panovska-Griffiths and others, Determining the optimal strategy for reopening schools, the impact of test and trace interventions, and the risk of occurrence of a second COVID-19 epidemic wave in the UK: a modelling study, Lancet Child and Adolescent Health, Online first 3 August 2020. DOI:
  3. Weekly Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Surveillance Report, Week 32, PHE, 7 August 2020

The Hazards Campaign calls for the government to adopt immediately a zero-Covid19 policy

Hazards Campaign calls for  the UK government to adopt immediately a zero-Covid19 policy with prevention of work-related infection and transmission a priority – or the resignation of the Prime Minster

Press Statement For Immediate Release 31/7/20

Hazards Campaign demands the Government implements a policy of zero Covid-19 transmission to drive down infection rate, save health and lives and ends it’s knee jerk reactionary responses to the transmission which blames individuals rather than its own incompetence.

The Government has created a chaotic and irrational response to the continuing transmission of the virus, ignoring work as a major site of infection and transmission, which will inevitably lead to deaths and more people left with debilitating health conditions. It will also prevent any return to normal life.

Last night’s 11th hour announcement in Greater Manchester, parts of Lancashire and Yorkshire, for a partial return to lock-down is causing community mistrust and anger as it comes just a few hours before Eid and affects many Asian communities. It shows panic and lack of consultation and planning, and will lead to confusion about the rules and mistrust of following them.

The government lockdown came too late, and eased restrictions too early in a race to return to work when it had not met even its own five tests, let alone Hazards Campaign and teaching union more stringent requirements. Government failures on test, track and trace left local councils and public health authorities without sufficient information such as where people work. It has deprived them of the tools needed to stop outbreaks fast and to communicate concerns with their communities about the continuing track to returning to restricted living.

For Government policies to work, they have to have the trust and confidence of the population but this Government has failed to gain that support. In fact through actions like the ‘Cummingsgate’ saga, they have destroyed and sabotaged the support they need to protect lives. Stupid announcements that accuse ordinary people of failings while at the same time exonerating officials and ministers who fail to act in accordance with their own laws, is putting the return to work and lives at great risk .

The UK and in particular England has one of the worst death and transmission statistics in the world. This isn’t because we are unlucky but because the Government has failed to act, failed to protect and failed in its job to put the health of its people before profits. Workers health is public health. The Government failed to prevent transmission and spread of Covid-19 at work. By not providing good information, support and enforcement action for workers it is creating environments for the virus to spread at work, amongst workers’ families and into the whole community. This is nothing less than ‘social murder’.

The Hazards Campaign calls for Government to immediately adopt a zero-Covid19 policy with prevention of work-related infection and transmission a priority or the resignation of the Prime Minister if he refuses to do this. We call for financial resources and support to involve workers, their unions, health and safety authorities and local public health in stamping out the pandemic at work.

Janet Newsham, Chair of Hazards Campaign said:

“We are calling for the resignation of the PM because he has lost the trust and confidence of the population and with that the ability to drive the virus out of our country which is essential for the future mental and physical health of its people”

‘The North of England is in chaos, following closely behind the Leicester saga and hundreds of workplace outbreaks across the country since the unplanned chaotic return to work started. People are angry that pubs and restaurants will stay open when visits to family are stopped. It makes no sense and will not protect and save people’s lives, nor will it regenerate the economy, it will only extend the misery that this Government has inflicted on its people.’

‘Much of the current mess is because of failed enforcement in workplaces, failed lock-downs and controls of the risks, none of which has been mentioned but the Government chooses to blame individuals and not their own incompetence.’

For more information, press only
Contact: Janet Newsham
Tel: 07734317158

Hazards Conference 2020 goes online: Viral Action – 1 August

Join us for the Hazards 2020 Conference online on 1st August!

Sign up , circulate to safety reps and activists and let’s get a great turn out for the first ever Hazards Conference online via Zoom!

Workers health and safety is paramount now and must be central to organising safe and healthy workplaces to create the decent jobs for decent lives for all as we rebuild a better future, no going back to neoliberal deadly business as usual normal.


This unique Zoom based online conference starts with an international plenary and is followed by four specific subject workshops with brilliant speakers and experts throughout the day.

Each Zoom workshop will start at the advertised time and will provide an opportunity to join in the discussions and together help formulate action plans to direct Hazards Campaign work priorities for the next 12 months.

10.00 – 11.30 Plenary – with international speakers on Covid-19 and the impact on workers

12.00 – 13.00  Safety reps taking the lead! – during and after Covid-19

13.30– 14.30  Fighting inequality in health and safety

15.00 – 16.00  Mental Health and Covid-19

16.30- 17.30 Toxics Out! Air pollution, just transition after Covid-19

To register please use the eventbrite link:

The conference is free of charge but if you, or your branch/organisation, would like to donate to the Hazards Campaign please pay by bank transfer to:
Name: Hazards 2020
Account number: 20090430
Sort Code: 608301
Bank: Unity Trust Bank, Four Brindleyplace, Birmingham, B1 2JB. Ref: Your organisation/name

Contact Janet Newsham / 07734 317 158 for more information.

On behalf of the Hazards Conference Organising Committee