Category Archives: Blog

Keep your distance: Is two metres too far or not far enough?

In a newly published commentary, safety experts conclude the arguments for a blanket reduction of the two metres social distancing guidance do not stack up.

“The arguments for a blanket reduction of 2m in the UK economy do not stack up. A limited but growing body of scientific evidence, based on a better understanding of particle physics and aerosols and supplemented by case studies of very recent clusters, continues to support a precautionary approach to 2m and its continuation in many settings where public and worker safety is at risk and there are no effective alternatives and no vaccines. The science for lowering the 2m distance, however, appears to be limited if not absent at this stage.”

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 ?
A Commentary by Andrew Watterson, Rory O’Neill, Janet Newsham, Hilda Palmer June 22nd 2020.

Read the commentary in full here

Hazards Campaign: We go back to work safely, or not at all

Hazards Campaign – Going Back to work safely or not at all!
No easing of the Lockdown until seven pre-conditions are met
What we need at work to Go Back and Move Forward!

There is no conflict between economic recovery and health because a healthy economic recovery requires healthy workers and people.  The SARS-CoV-2 Virus causes the disease Covid -19.

“ The COVID-19 pandemic has made the links between occupational health and safety and wider public health very stark indeed. Workers Health is Public Health. It has also highlighted the fact that not only the health and safety of health, social and emergency workers is critical to fighting the pandemic but so too is the health and safety of key workers in the service, retail , transport, distribution and manufacturing etc sectors. If you do not protect the workforce in a pandemic you do not protect the public.” Professor A. Watterson

Relaxing the lockdown and going back to work must follow the Precaution, Prevention, Protection and Participation approach.

Precaution is needed as we still do not know enough about the virus or its transmission in various built and open environments. Recent research shows that airborne spread may be important not just droplet contamination of surfaces, and that people can spread the virus although asymptomatic or even pre-symptomatic.

Prevention of work-related COVID-19 infections must be the aim and top priority for employers, regulators and government in all workplaces, essential and non-essential, and it must be enforced rigorously by a properly funded and empowered Health and Safety Executive and Local Authority Environmental Health Officers, EHOs. The Hazards Campaign supports the ILO call for COVID-19 to be recognised as an occupational disease

Protection of all workers must be achieved using the health and safety law control hierarchy, the highest standards of occupational health, safety and hygiene at work, and measures to protect workers from infection by the public.

Participation of workers and trade unions all levels – not safe unless workers say it is.

It is essential that relaxation of lockdown is done safely so it prevents an immediate and exponential rise in the COVID-19 infection rate that would create a second peak of illnesses and deaths and risk of overwhelming the NHS, which would lead to emergency lockdown again. To avoid this requires national testing, tracing, isolation, with reports and records of infections and deaths provided in an open, transparent regionally and locally accountable manner, capable of rapid alerts to identify local and workplace hotspots which can be acted upon swiftly.

No easing of Lockdown until these Seven Pre-conditions are met:

1. Proven sustained low level of COVID-19 infections and deaths.
This must use all available national and regional data for infections, illnesses and deaths in all setting, such as ONS figures, including excess death comparisons with previous 5 year averages.

2. Testing, Tracing, Isolating via a demonstrably effective intelligence gathering system for infection rates. An open and transparent, locally situated public health system of testing, tracing and isolating for those with COVID-19 infection, with all results made public. This must include:

  • easily accessible testing facilities – drive through and mobile testing for all who need it
  • providing test results rapidly and directly to individuals tested, publicly and to national and local health services
  • ensuring COVID-19 infections and deaths of workers are fully recorded by occupation and workplace in the national testing scheme, and also recorded by employers, reported as notifiable diseases, and reported to HSE through RIDDOR for tracing of transmission and infection mechanisms related to work
  • baseline testing available to all workers before they return to work, and a rapid response to increases in infection rate geographically, sectorally and by workplaces. For example when cases start to rise or cases are reported in workplaces, then there should be an automatic ‘stop’ work’ step until the reasons for the rise are explained and action taken. National lockdown should be resumed if widespread infection rate appears to be increasing exponentially again.
  • All testing results and statistics relating to COVID-19 must be dis-aggregated by sex, ethnicity and occupation

3 . Hospital, Care and Residential settings have proven capacity and ability to cope with normal demand of all illnesses and injuries plus COVID-19 infections without being under excessive pressure

4. Strict maintenance of social/physical distancing rules of 2 metres minimum in public spaces backed up by hand washing, sanitisers and cleaning of surfaces

5.  Safe for workers to use public transport and public spaces including:

  • highest level of shielding, screens and distancing protection for workers in places of public congregation like public transport, shops, schools, hospitality etc., plus appropriate PPE where 2 metre physical distance cannot be guaranteed at all times. On public transport there is a need for screens, shields, gloves, alternative payment methods such as cashless cards for protection of workers as passengers and as operators.
  • PPE for the public to protect workers, based on the latest research on airborne droplets and transmission, alongside information and training plus provision of specific sourcing of PPE for the public which does not compete with health care and other essential workers

 6.  In all workplaces the prevention of work-related COVID-19 infections must be the enforced goal.

  • This must be top priority for employers, regulators and government, explicitly stated in health and safety policies and practices, and rigorously enforced by the HSE and Local Authorities.
  • The 2 metre rule should apply unless it has been demonstrated the work is essential and there is no alternative. Then high-level engineering controls, systems of work, appropriate PPE and other alternative measures must be used and approved by the workers and regulators.
  • All health and safety measures must be backed up by employers showing demonstrable safe systems of adapted work organisation and workplaces to ensure safe and healthy working is practical, possible and will be enforced.
  • All risk assessments reviewed to a precautionary level of control to prevent all exposure to COVID-19 with specific attention to risk for those groups of workers who are disproportionately represented in illness and deaths figures. Although men are more at risk of death from COVID19 in every age group, black and minority ethnic and women workers are becoming ill and dying at a disproportionate rate and reducing their risks at work must be specifically taken into account.

7. Complete closure of all non-essential workplaces for at least 3 weeks before easing of the lockdown

  • to enable employers to plan, consult with union reps, workers’ reps and health and safety regulators, to develop and implement plans to ensure their workplaces and job organisation meet the highest level of ordinary health and safety plus compliance with additional public health guidance, and
  • to give the gradual easing of lockdown the best chance of success.
Going back to work– Moving forward

Workplaces must be demonstrably safe or remain closed. Prevention of work-related COVID-19 infections must be the explicit top priority for all employers, regulators and government, stated in health and safety policies and practices and rigorously enforced. If the workforce is not protected then the public will not be protected.

All employers must demonstrate that in consultation with union safety reps or workers representatives, union officers or health and safety inspectors, that they have reviewed existing risk assessments including generic pandemic planning and made new COSHH  risk assessments, then established safe systems of work, training for workers and constant monitoring. They must use the COSHH hierarchy of control to prevent exposure to SARS CoV-2 by adapting work organisation and workplaces to ensure safe and healthy working is practical, possible in all circumstances, and will be enforced. If it is impossible to adapt workplace to meet health and safety requirements including the additional public health guidance for COVID-19 then workplaces cannot reopen.

 Employers must:

1. Ensure consultation and involvement of trade unions safety reps, workers’ reps, trade union officers and where possible HSE inspectors or LA EHOs and health and safety officers, to ensure the safety and health of the workforce and of the public. 

2. Review all risk assessments in light of the continuing health risks of the COVID-19, make new risk assessments and develop safety systems of work which are fully consulted on and agreed, approved by health and safety regulators, and for which training and monitoring are organised. Pay specific attention to risk for those groups of workers who are disproportionately represented in illness and deaths figures such as  BAME and women workers. Although men are more at risk of death from COVID19 in every age group,  BAME and women workers are becoming ill and dying at a disproportionate rate and reducing their risks must be specifically taken into account.

3. Review safety of premises and equipment, checking ventilation, electrical, mechanical, structural, fire and other relevant safety issues after weeks of lack of use and daily checks during ‘lockdown’ and their appropriateness to be used with the COVID-19 threat.

4. Deep clean work premises before work is reopened and then maintain high standards of cleanliness and hygiene Full COSHH risk assessments for cleaning staff provided with highest level of PPE, safe products and methods of cleaning. After this to maintain high standards of cleanliness of accommodation, safe working with others including public and personal hygiene to be maintained.

5.  Review staffing levels and work-loads
These cannot return to normal as fewer workers will be permitted in given workspace to achieve 2m minimum physical distancing. This means lower workloads, targets and work rates which need to be assessed to ensure this is manageable, and that sufficient numbers of staff are available to support work safely. Consider staggered or alternating shifts with no hot desking.  Temporarily replace people who are sick or self-isolating

6. Review safe travel to and from work
The safe use of public and private transport needs to be considered includes varying hours, length of days, PPE required for travel including safe disposal of and changing facilities for clothes and welfare provision for cleaning/showering at the beginning and end of shift

7. Support for the mental health for all workers
Review stress risk assessments and take account of new work-stress factors – fear of catching COVID-19 at work or on commute, fear of infecting the family, increased anxiety due to the pandemic, grief in workers who have experienced bereavement from COVID-19 etc which will be exacerbated by returning to work.  All workers and especially new workers must be provided with more support, supportive supervision and mentors.  Training will need to be regularly reviewed.

8. Provide supportive occupational health services and health surveillance.
 This should include access to health and medical surveillance, temperature and other observations.  All COVID-19 sickness and deaths of workers need to be recorded by employers, reported to public health authorities as notifiable illness, reported to HSE under RIDDOR, and investigated to establish work-related causes. Immediate action must be taken in the workplace to protect workers and public where cases occur or  start to rise locally. If cases are reported in workplaces, then there should be an automatic ‘stop’ work’ until the reasons for the rise are explained and action taken.

9. Ensure no disciplinary consequence or detriment for taking sick/caring leave/self-isolation 

10. Provide mental and physical disability/ill health support

Risks assessments must take account of workers with underlying conditions, including pregnancy. These and workers returning from sick leave will need reviews to support reasonable adjustments where necessary, including phased return to work.

11. Provide additional measures in higher risk essential workplaces to ensure the safety, health and welfare of workers in specific essential occupations arising from risk of COVID-19 exposure:

  • Health Setting Workers – review of control measures to risks including sufficient quantities and precautionary approach to highest protective levels of PPE
  • Teachers and teaching settings –is it possible to maintain social distance, use of PPE and safe systems of work, reduction of pupil/student numbers
  • Retail Distribution – welfare provisions, cleanliness
  • Transport – protection from of contact with public, 2 metre social distancing and PPE for workers and public
  • Retail – strict maintenance of 2 metre social distancing and PPE for workers and public
  • Cleaners – review of COSHH assessments for all cleaning chemicals and appropriate PPE
  • Social care – review of safe systems of working with several clients, in care homes. This needs to include minimum wages and sickness conditions, safety of sleep overs, public transport, access to and disposal of PPE
  • Postal workers – availability of PPE and safe systems of work

12. Wider worker protections that must be ensured:

  • Income protection for those who are sick or self-isolating at regular level of income
  • All workers must be made aware of their legal rights to refuse work they feel exposes them to danger. This right should be made an enforceable explicit right to refuse work, return to work, or continue to work where safety and health are felt to be at risk, without any immediate or deferred detriment..
  • Protection from victimisation and unfair dismissal where workers or reps have been whistle-blowers, carried out inspections of the workplace, raised issues about concerns with enforcing bodies, or taken sick/caring or self-isolation leave.
  • Direct access to enforcement officers by safety reps via a help- line to raise concerns, obtain advice and help from HSE Inspectors or Local Authority EHOs
  • All COVID-19 sickness and deaths of workers must be reported under RIDDOR to provide intelligence of patterns of exposure at work and possible negligence
  • COVID-19 to be recognised as an occupational disease

Useful Information and sources

Hazards Magazine:  Exposed Coronavirus issue 149

Hazards Campaign: Briefings, statements on CV19

Hazards Campaign Detailed briefing on Risk Assessments for CV19 (coming soon).

TUC Risk Assessment:

TUC Preparing for return to work outside the home

HSE   and special email for union safety and other reps to report concerns at work about Covid19:

Hazards Campaign Twitter: @hazardscampaign
Facebook: We didn’t vote to die at work                                                                 email:

28 April: Remember the dead fight for the living – Hazards Campaign

Hazards Campaign news release 27 April 2020

Tuesday 28 April is International Workers Memorial Day #IWMD20

Remember the Dead Fight for the Living

Fighting for hearts and minds of all workers

Every year on 28 April all over the world trade unions, workers, families mark International Workers Memorial Day because work still hurts, makes ill and kills millions globally every year, and over 50,000 in this country, 140 a day before the pandemic arrived to make things worse. Bad jobs can break your heart, leaving us HEARTBROKEN. Whether the threat at work is another new virus, dangerous substances or heart-breaking demands, your life should not be on the line. Unions can make it better.

The Hazards Campaign brought Workers Memorial Day to the UK in 1990s with twin aims, to Remember the Dead but also to Fight for the Living and has marked it every year since then. This year as Coronavirus rages through the world it is more necessary than ever to honour both those aims so no more workers will die needlessly.

We will remember all those low paid, insecure and exploited workers who are now recognised as essential: NHS workers, social care workers, cleaners, bus drivers, delivery drivers, taxi uber and other transport workers, food chain workers, cleaners, supermarket and other shop workers, postal, education, civil servants, border and prison guards, social & call centre workers etc.

Unions and workers are organising, fighting back and winning sick pay, site closures, pay for all laid off workers and PPE.

There will be action all across the UK, online meetings and physically distanced outdoor meetings and demos in essential workplaces, and #CoronavirusWalkouts in the UK and across the world

Hazards Campaign supports the 11am one minutes silence

to Remember the Dead – those dying from Covid19 and all work hazards.   At home hold up a Heartbroken poster, stand by your door, gate or in the street. At work hold a safe physically distanced outdoor vigil.

In Fighting for the Living, we call for Government and employers to ‘Stop the pandemic at work’ by:

Closing all non-essential workplaces

Paying every worker living wage, liveable sick pay from day 1 to #StayHomeSaveNHSSaveLives

Providing correct PPE for all essential workers #PPENow #NoKitNoCare

No release from ‘lockdown’ or any return to work unless based on highest level of precaution, prevention and protection of all workers.

Testing, tracing and quarantining

The Covid pandemic has made clear that workers health is public health. Workers health is public health, if the workforce is not protected then the public cannot be protected in a pandemic. We need good workplace health and safety to prevent work-related Covid infections, deaths or transmission, and any other preventable work-related illnesses, injuries or deaths either.  See Hazards Campaign Full #IWMD20 Briefing  FACK Statement for #IWMD20

The Hazards Campaign has worked with Greater Manchester Hazards Centre and Families Against Corporate Killers to produce three  new #IWMD20 films: Lean on Me – Families against corporate killers supporting families of those killed at work, and.

Hazards Campaigner talking about IWMD means to them. Fallen tears

Manchester IWMD20 Zoom Meeting 12 noon

For more information contact Janet Newsham 077343 17158  or Hilda Palmer 0161 792 1044  079298 0024,


Hazard Campaign Call to Action, Posters, Social media graphics and full Briefing:

The Whole Story – real figures on total deaths at work

TUC RISKs newsletter summary of Trade Union Action on IWMD 28 April

Hazards Magazine Issue 149 Exposed

FACK Statement for #IWMD20

Hazards Campaign Windrush Millennium Centre 70 Alexandra Road Manchester M16 7WD


TUC RISKs newsletter summary of Trade Union Action on IWMD 28 April

Hazards Magazine Issue 149 Exposed

FACK Statement for #IWMD20

Hazards Campaign Windrush Millennium Centre 70 Alexandra Road Manchester M16 7WD

28 April: FACK statement – If you do not protect the workforce in a pandemic, you do not protect the public.

Statement: Families Against Corporate Killers (FACK)

International Workers’ Memorial Day 28 April 2020

In the weeks leading up to this year’s International Workers’ Memorial Day, our FACK hearts have collectively felt the heaviest they have for quite some time, many of us having already lived for a decade or more with the heartbreak currently being inflicted on those losing loved ones to COVID-19.

Like them, we didn’t get the chance to say goodbye. Like them, we know that the deaths of our loved ones could and should have been prevented. Like us, they know there will be no justice for their grandparents, mums, dads, siblings, or children. And we all know that we will never know The Whole Story.

And so, as we sought the words to give voice to our thoughts today, we worried that it was just too big an ask…until it struck us: we have said all that needs to be said before!

While our words have previously been said in challenge to work-related incidents and illnesses, there are chilling parallels to the pandemic crisis which engulfs us.

We FACKers remember ALL of the dead, having repeatedly implored that each and every work-related fatality should be recognised, counted and be made to count! And the very same is true of COVID-19 deaths.

The HSE figure of 147 fatalities last year doesn’t include those who die in maritime or air incidents, who die on our roads while working, or those who die by work-related suicide.  It doesn’t count members of the public who die as a result of work-related activities, nor the huge numbers killed by occupational illness.  When all those lost loved ones are counted – as they should be – we reach nearer 1500 who die in work-related incidents, and a further 50,000 who die each and every year as a result of work-related illness! But unless this true toll is set out in plain sight, depth of impact cannot be measured, lessons cannot be learned, and future needless loss of life cannot be prevented.

So it is for COVID-19 fatalities. As Professor Andy Watterson has stated: “If you do not protect the workforce in a pandemic, you do not protect the public.” And so, to stop the pandemic at work, we need to understand where ALL of the deaths are occurring. Government advisers said at the outset that if deaths in the UK could be kept to under 20,000, that would be a “good” result. Utterly disgusting then. And even more disgusting now as The Whole Story we estimate to be approaching twice that number!

We FACKers have been clear that the work a person does often results from inequality, and that it often results in health inequality. The lower your pay grade, the higher your health and safety risks, whether from overwork, exposure to cancer-causing substances, the inability to turn down overtime and shift work, or the worry about speaking up on health and safety for fear you lose your job.

So it is for COVID-19 fatalities.  The lower your pay grade, the more likely you are to be exposed and the less likely you are to be able to remove yourself from harm without losing your income or your job. Nurses, porters, care workers, bus drivers, retail assistants, delivery drivers…keyworkers who all deserve so much better from the government and enforcement authorities, just as our FACK lost loved ones did.

But we FACKers remain resolute, principally because the precious memories of those loved ones fuels us in our fight for the living.

And so it is for those bravely speaking out about the threat from COVID-19 in their time of overwhelming grief. Who could fail to be moved by 16 year old Bethany Pearson, who laid bare the pain felt on going to bed knowing her beloved dad was feeling 5 out of 10, only to wake in the morning to find he was gone?  She said the saving grace for her family is that it still feels unreal. And we know only too well that that lack of reality is lasting.

Because, we FACKers, our hearts break all over again at repeatedly hearing that a work-related fatality was an “accident waiting to happen”.

And on COVID-19, so many preventable deaths are occurring. So we weep for Dr Abdul Mabud Chowdhury’s family. He is the consultant urologist who wrote a post on Facebook, directed at Boris Johnson, warning that healthcare workers urgently needed more PPE. He said they had a human right like others to live in this world disease-free with their families and children. He lost his life 5 days later. His son Intisar says: “my father would not be afraid to point out what was wrong. Because he cared, about people, co-workers, colleagues, family, people he’s never even met.”

We FACKers know just who it is that does care: those who operate our Hazards Centres and the Hazards Campaign; those trade union safety reps who fight with every ounce of their being for hearts and minds, and to prevent loss of life. We know that trade union workplaces are safer workplaces, whether that be day-to-day, or when battling a pandemic.

We FACKers said that “life and limb will be lost…life and limb are being lost…as a result of the continued denigration of health and safety by politicians and also vast swathes of the media.” To hear those who have so denigrated  and demolished health and safety protections over the past couple of decades implore us all to “stay safe”…well, it sticks in the craw.

Because…we FACKers have said all that needs to be said before!!

So, until such time as people, not profits, are paramount; until lives are prioritised over livelihoods; until abject carelessness is replaced by exemplary care, we FACKers will continue to fight for your right not to walk in our shoes.

Remember ALL of the dead. And please, fight like hell for the living!

FACK was established in July 2006, by and for families of people killed by the gross negligence of business employers, see .

Founder Members of FACK:

Dawn and Paul Adams son Samuel Adams aged 6 killed at Trafford Centre,10th October 1998

Linzi Herbertsonhusband Andrew Herbertson 29, killed at work on 30th January 1998

Mike and Lynne Hutin son Andrew Hutin 20, killed at work on 8th Nov 2001

Mick & Bet Murphyson Lewis Murphy 18, killed at work on 21st February 2004

Louise Taggart brother Michael Adamson 26, killed at work on 4th August 2005

Linda Whelanson Craig Whelan 23, (and Paul Wakefield) killed at work on 23rd May 2004

Dorothy & Douglas Wrightson Mark Wright 37, killed at work on 13th April 2005

For more information and to support FACK
Hilda Palmer, Facilitator for FACK
c/o Hazards Campaign,
Windrush Millennium Centre,
70 Alexandra Road,
Manchester, M16 7WD.
Tel 0161 636 7557

28 April: Hazards Campaign call to action

Workers’ Memorial Day 2020

Normal public events for April 28th won’t be possible because of measures to contain Coronavirus/Covid-19. But marking International Workers’ Memorial Day has never been more important for workers’ lives and health and those of our families and communities.

Some workplace events may still go ahead but we are taking #IWMD20 online, developing a social media campaign that we want everyone to join in. This will keep the day and its perennial aims on the public and political agenda with the twin slogans to ‘Remember the Dead and Fight for the Living’. This year’s international theme has been changed by ITUC to ‘Stop the Pandemic at work’.

The Hazards Campaign is going ahead with: ‘Unions fighting for hearts and minds’ incorporating the fight against Coronavirus.

Hazards Campaign – Final briefing and call to action document

  1. WINDOW DISPLAYS Put up a Heartbroken poster – order or print one off- make a window display! See below.
  2. POST SELFIES Post a selfie with Heartbroken poster, or your window poster display, add a message, post on social media #IWMD20 or send to us
  3. ORGANISE A MEETING Organise a meeting – on-line or in the workplace if it can be done safely.
  4. USE OUR FIGURES NOT HSE’S Use ‘The Whole Story’ on death caused by work not HSE partial statistics [Updated April 2020]
  5. MAPPING ACTION Mapping #IWMD20: tell us what you are doing and about workers memorials near you and we will map them.
  6. CAMPAIGN ON SOCIAL MEDIA Create a huge wave of #IWMD20 tweets and posts on social media – download sample graphics here
  7. HAZARDS FILM Watch and send out the Hazards Campaign Film for #IWMD20 ‘Fighting for Hearts and Minds – forthcoming.
  8. LIGHT A CANDLE Light a candle in the window on 28th at 9pm to remember all workers killed by #COVID and other work hazards – but be safe.
  9. MEMORIALS ONLINE Online memorials—post photos and details of those killed at and by work to us or direct to Twitter and Facebook.
  10. GLOBAL SOLIDARITY Use the #IWMD20 for national and international solidarity with our union colleagues all across the world. And check out the ITUC/Hazards magazine global hub for international activities.

Resources to print out for your window display 

Hazards Campaign: 28 April social media campaigning graphics

As a part of our International Workers’ Memorial Day 2020 call to action the Hazards Campaign has produced a series of social media graphics (below) for you to share in your networks. Flood Twitter, Facebook  and the other social networks with these images and remember to include the hashtag #iwmd20, #covid19 and @hazardscampaign

Sample graphics scaled for Facebook


Sample graphics scaled for Twitter

Deadly failures have placed millions of workers at unnecessary coronavirus exposure risk

Deadly failures have placed millions of workers at unnecessary coronavirus exposure risk 
[Hazards Cmapaign, News release, 7 April 2020]

A fatal combination of missed opportunities, ignored warning signs and a failure to stop non-essential work have made the Covid-19 a bigger and more deadly epidemic in the UK, a new analysis prepared for the Hazards Campaign by top public health academic Professor Andrew Watterson of Stirling University  has revealed.  The government’s serial failures are summarised in an infographic prepared by Hazards Magazine.

Calling for an end to non-essential work, Hazards Campaign spokesperson Janet Newsham said:

“For all our sake, stop this madness.”

For all our sake, stop this madness.  We have workers side-by-side building luxury hotels when almost every hotel in the land is shutdown and in crisis, and building power stations that won’t go on line for years. How can these jobs have been considered ‘essential’?”

She added: “To control the spread of this virus we need a Government to make rational decisions and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to enforce safety or stop the work.   

“We are weeks into the pandemic and frontline staff are dying from a negligent Government who are failing to provide basic PPE”

“We are weeks into the pandemic and frontline staff are dying from a negligent Government who are failing to provide basic PPE never mind a standard of PPE that would keep all health and care workers and all essential workers safe.   

“We need a precautionary approach to this new risk and one that provides workers with the best chance of avoiding being infected by it.  It needs to be a robust approach using the best possible research and international evidence available. 

“Continually over the last few weeks, Government officials, have said that testing is coming.  And weeks before, international experts declared that the only way to win the battle against the virus spread was to test and track.  Only this will save the lives of both the front-line workers and the rest of society.  We have to attack the spread of the virus and test, track and quarantine, is the only way proven way to achieve this.  There shouldn’t need to be a debate about who is going to receive treatment or not, we should have in place a health care system alongside a strategy that protects our most vulnerable.   

“The Hazards Campaign calls on the HSE to step up and enforce the legal duty on employers to ensure workers health and safety.”

“The Hazards Campaign calls on the HSE to step up and enforce the legal duty on employers to ensure workers health and safety.  All workers including vulnerable zero hours, the bogus self- employed need reassurance and access to information and support in the workplace.  This means they need a health and safety enforcer to listen to their concerns, raise their issues and challenge negligent employers.  We need them to close down employers who are putting people’s lives at risk. 

“Everyone needs to stand together in the fight to protect workers”

“Everyone needs to stand together in the fight to protect workers, not simply because it’s the right thing to do but because it affects us all. Workers health is public health.  When companies subject workers to dangerous conditions and cheat them out of wages, it’s taxpayers who foot the bill.  The worst offenders will only change their behaviour when the cost of failing to protect workers outweighs the benefits. If we truly want to show our essential workers how much we appreciate their contributions, we need to do more than just applaud them. We must have the courage to stand and support them, using every resource we have. It will be for the good of public health too.

“We echo the statement put out by the STUC condemning the UKs Government approach on social distancing and welcoming the new Scottish Government guidance.  All risks in the workplace must be controlled and the very least employers should do to protect all workers is to provide the highest level of PPE available in these circumstances. (

“We support the Statement by the Society of Occupational Medicine!  ( that the UK should have aimed for a target of zero work-related fatalities in this pandemic within the NHS, essential services and UK business.  Finally, there has been a failure by the HSE to enforce Health and Safety Law and ensure workers are protected from all the risks in the workplace.  This must change!”

A Hazards Campaign meeting yesterday agreed the following statement .


COVID 19 in the UK and occupational health and safety – predictable but not inevitable failures: what can we do now? [updated]

INFOGRAPHIC COVID-19: The coronavirus lessons the UK government chose to ignore

STUC welcomes Scottish Government Guidance on social distancing and condemns UK Government’s approach

Work related fatalities due to COVID-19 exposure is not a given

Further information

Janet Newsham
Chair of Hazards Campaign
Tel: 07734 317 158

Hazards Campaign Statement – Deadly failures have placed millions of workers at unnecessary coronavirus exposure risk

Hazards Campaign Statement – 6 April 2020

Deadly failures have placed millions of workers at unnecessary coronavirus exposure risk

The National Hazards Campaign believes that the government, HSE and public health organisation across the four nations should be striving to ensure no more workers die of work-related Covid-19.

To control the spread of this virus and protect workers from contracting Covid-19, we need the Government to make rational, science based decisions and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), to enforce safety in all workplaces, and stop all non-essential work, if it can’t be done at home.  This can be achieved by:

    1. A precautionary approach to this new Covid-19 virus risk, that provides workers with the best chance to avoid becoming infected by it. Employers need to eliminate the risk of catching or spreading Covid-19 at work by following health and safety risk-based control measures:

a) Closure of all non-essential work that is not supporting essential workers, with workers laid off with full pay so they can stay home and keep safe
b) Preventing exposure in essential work/supporting essential work by:

          • Enforcing social/physical distancing
          • Provision of physical barriers and safe systems of work
          • Provision of the highest most protective level of PPE (including training, cleaning and maintenance) for all workers who have to work within the 2 metre zone with people/patients as everyone may be potentially infected. In particular:
            > For Essential Workers (for example care workers, cleaners, prison officers etc.) this must include disposable gloves, aprons, masks, goggles or face visors
            >For NHS medical staff treating known Covid-19 patients this means the highest WHO standards of respiratory, goggles or visors, disposal suits, gloves etc

c) Government (HSE and public health organisations) must immediately issue new PPE guidance for all workers as latest updates only meet minimum standards not the highest required to fully protect essential workers.

  1. To attack the spread of the virus using tried and tested public health methods to test and track, then quarantine.
  2. A health care system alongside a strategy that protects our most vulnerable, not one that leaves health workers having to choose who has the best chance of survival.
  3. The HSE to step up and enforce the duty on employers to ensure workers health and safety.  All workers, need reassurance and access to information and support in the workplace, without artificial communication barriers.  The HSE to investigate quickly and close down employers who are putting peoples lives at risk. HSE must engage with workers via new technology and social media too ensure they get real-time information about hazards and risk on site and can respond rapidly.

A fatal combination of missed opportunities, ignored warning signs and a failure to stop non-essential work have made the Covid-19 a bigger and more deadly epidemic in the UK, a new analysis by Prof. A Watterson has revealed.   Additionally, there is a failure by the HSE to enforce Health and Safety Law and ensure workers are protected from all the risks in the workplace. This must change!

COVID 19 in the UK and occupational health and safety – predictable but not inevitable failures: what can we do now?

News release: Hazards Campaign demands action to save workers’ lives

Press statement for immediate release, 3 April 2020

Hazards Campaign demands action to save workers’ lives

The Hazards Campaign has written to MPs and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) calling for the HSE to close down organisations which continue to place profits before people by exposing workers to unacceptable risks.

Workers are being forced to face foreseeable and preventable risk of exposure to Covid-19 at work and it is the HSE’s duty to intervene to protect them, when employers are breaching their legal health and safety duties to prevent those risks.

The Government’s contradictory policy on preventing transmission and spread of Covid-19 at work is causing deaths and is nothing less than ‘social murder’.

The Government states ‘stay at home; if you go out, stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people at all times; wash your hands as soon as you get home; do not meet others, even friends or family; you can spread the virus even if you don’t have symptoms’ and at the same time say ‘only go outside for food, health reasons or work (but only if you cannot work from home)’   (  The Government is keeping non-essential businesses open. This leaves workers being forced to go out to work,  in conditions which place them in close contact with other workers, without the handwashing and cleaning hygiene precautions stated in Public Health Guidance  and exposed to this deadly virus.  Covid-19 is killing people of all ages, many of whom were previously healthy as well as those with underlying health risks.

As workers who develop Covid-19 will die at home or in hospital, there is a need to ensure their deaths are recorded at work, reported to HSE, Local Authorities under RIDDOR, and investigated later for work-related causes. This is essential information for future assessment of the effectiveness of workplace and government strategies on protecting workers and reducing Covid-19 transmission at work and will be essential in preventing deaths in future pandemics.

In addition, the HSE and Local Authority inspectors must be available to be contacted by concerned workers being threatened or forced to work in dangerous conditions, to be able to report negligent employers.

Janet Newsham, Chair of Hazards Campaign said:

These workers have to travel to work on public transport further exposing themselves and other more essential critical workers to contracting the virus.  Essential workplaces need to keep running for safety reasons or because they are producing critically needed equipment or supporting critical services.   The health of these essential workers, including health care workers, must be protected while commuting to and from work but their ability to maintain safe, physical distance is made impossible by the many non-essential workers also commuting.

“Workers themselves are having to force employers to ‘do the right thing’ when it should be the Government and its health and safety enforcement agencies, taking the lead.  The HSE must make clear unambiguous statements, that if employers in non-essential work cannot maintain conditions to meet public health guidance, then the workplace is unsafe and demand and follow that up with enforcement action to halt production, until the spread of the virus has been controlled.  Government must provide a decent living wage for all workers in this situation.

“The Hazards Campaign also demand that, unless PPE is available at the correct standard, essential critical workers should limit their interventions to the protective level of their PPE, so that these workers are not exposed to the virus.  In Spain there has been an estimated 14% of health workers diagnosed with the virus.  (  We must not run an underfunded, under-resourced health service with ‘expendable workers’.  We need every health care worker to survive to help increase the chance of survival of all citizens.”

She added:

“We are witnessing Government reducing PPE standards to meet the levels of PPE available and NOT producing quickly the safest levels of PPE to protect all workers.  Critical health workers need and deserve the best standards and no compromise.  In the UK we still have some of the most advanced manufacturing facilities, we have the expertise and capability to produce all the PPE and equipment we need and we demand that the Government steps up its efforts to provide what is necessary. 

“The HSE’s mission is ‘to prevent death, injury and ill-health in Great Britain’s workplaces – by becoming part of the solution’.  ( ) Hazards Campaign demand that the HSE does just that – it’s duty – to enforce employers legal duty to prevent illness, injury and death at work!”

Further information, press only
Contact: Janet Newsham
Tel: 07734317158
Notes for Editors
Further 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.


The Hazards Campaign
c/o Greater Manchester Hazards Centre
Windrush Millennium Centre
70 Alexandra Road
M16 7WD
websitetwitter @hazardscampaign • facebook

Hazards Campaign reply to HSE: Our Covid 19 concerns remain unanswered

Health and Safety Executive
HSE Head of Strategy, Media and Campaign
Redgrave Court,
Merton Road, Bootle,
L20 8HS


Dear Jason,

Thank you for your response to my letter on behalf of the Hazards Campaign dated 30.3.20.

I am encouraged that you state ‘HSE will consider a range of actions to improve control of workplace risks’, ranging from the provision of specific advice to employers through to issuing enforcement notices’.

However, our concern about ‘non-essential’ organisations which are still working and unable to comply with social distancing remains unanswered.  Surely the risks associated with this far outweighs the ‘indeed it is important for business to carry on’ message in your ‘Social distancing, keeping businesses open and in-work activities during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak’ document?

In addition, many of the organisations which struggle to comply with social distancing also fail to comply with enhanced cleaning of tools and equipment, personal welfare facilities and even in offices, warehouses and manufacturing there is a lack of appreciation about the spread of the virus.

This seems to be in direct conflict with the government Public Health Guidance for trying to control the spread of COVID-19, and with the HSE’s Mission statement – HSE’s mission is to prevent death, injury and ill-health in Great Britain’s workplaces.

The government document says that if a ‘member of staff has helped someone who was taken unwell with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature, they do not need to go home unless they develop symptoms themselves’ and that the advice is for them ‘wash their hands’.  This is totally ridiculous, will continue the spread of the virus, put more workers at risk and again appears to be in conflict with government Public Health Guidance about self-isolating to reduce risk of transmission of COVID-19.

As previously stated, we continue to receive reports from workers – those who have insufficient PPE, are not trained in the use of the PPE or have the incorrect PPE in essential and non-essential work.  This can be the difference between being protected from a deadly virus or not and therefore there needs to be greater emphasis on the importance of PPE – its specification for different jobs and risks, and the quantity required to fully protect workers.

The HSE document ‘Research: review of personal protective equipment provided in health care settings to manage risk during coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19) is contradictory at best.  Surely if FFP3 respirators are required, FFP2 respirators will be inadequate for AGP work with known or suspected patients, when exposure to high viral load is great, or at the very least should only be used only for a short period of time with strict guidance?  And what evidence is being collected about ‘passed a face fit test’ and when will this be audited.  We would also say that eye protection is essential in all settings, where workers have to be closer than the minimum guidelines of 2m.

There has got to be a recognition that many of the workers who will have the most concerns, will be in workplaces where they are on precarious contracts and not in a trade union organised and supported workplace.  In these workplaces it will be impossible for them to resolve issues ‘through speaking with their employer or trade union’ first.  They risk losing their jobs.  There must be an alternative approach available.  The HSE helpline or an alternative option must be available for worried exposed workers.

We welcome your statement about looking to provide a ‘clear message about what you expect employers to do in the current situation’ and that must include reviewing and assessing the risks of the job, controlling them effectively and the consequences to workers health if they fail to do this.  When deciding on control measures where possible, this must include the option of work being carried out at home and providing workers with the equipment and tools to do it.  After also consulting with safety reps.

We conclude:

  • If the work cannot be carried out safely within the public health rules, then it should stop. No-one should be being placed at risk in non-essential workplaces and the HSE must be able to close down unsafe workplaces to protect workers, their families and the wider public health.
  • There must be a recognition that vulnerable workers need to be able to contact the HSE regardless of having reported it to their employer first.
  • In critical essential employment, workers must have the appropriate PPE, in adequate supplies, necessary to keep them safe and healthy and if not, they must be able to stop work until it is available.

We recognise these are unprecedented times, but all the risks workers are facing, are foreseeable and preventable and we believe it is the HSE’s duty, more than ever in such times, to ‘prevent death, injury and ill-health in Great Britain’s workplaces’ by taking a far more proactive role.

With best wishes

Janet Newsham
On behalf of Hazards Campaign
Chair of Hazards Campaign/ Coordinator of GMHC