Category Archives: Blog

Hazards Campaign comment on employment minister Chris Grayling’s Butlin’s bumper car letter

In response to the publication by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) of Chris Grayling’s letter on Butlin’s bumping bumper car ban decision, a Hazards Campaign spokesperson said:

“The first piece of hard evidence published from workplace health and safety’s nemesis, employment minister Chris Grayling, undermines the whole basis for his attacks on workplace health and safety by showing it’s not our health and safety laws or over-zealous enforcement by health and safety cops or “gold plating” EU directives that lead to some of the well publicised “bonkers conkers” decisions.

“In his published letter to Butlin’s regarding their decision to ban bumping bumper cars he clearly recognises it is operational decisions taken by employers themselves under no pressure from the state, the law or its enforcement bodies. In the Butlin’s case the decision in all likelihood was taken to lessen the potential risk of being sued – which has nothing to do with workplace health and safety.

“It’s time for Grayling to come clean and admit his and the Tory attacks on workplace health and safety provisions are based on ideology rather than reality. He must stop his attacks on our legal framework, recognise the real cost of workplace health and safety failures to society and who is responsible. It is criminally negligent employers who kill, maim, disable, injure and make unwell many thousands of workers every year costing the UK economy £32 billion annually and the cuts to the HSE and its enforcement regime must be reversed.”

For more information contact:
Hazards Campaign – 0161 636 7557

Further information:

Chris Grayling’s letter: http://www.hse.gov.uk/press/record/2011/butlins260411.htm

We didn’t vote to die at work: http://www.hazards.org/votetodie/

Hazards Campaign: http://www.hazardscampaign.org.uk/

The whole story: http://www.shponline.co.uk/features-content/full/the-whole-story

Hazards Campaign comment on PM Cameron’s linking the riots and looting to health and safety legislation

Hazards Campaign comment on PM Cameron’s linking the riots and looting to health and safety legislation

Following the statements made by PM Cameron yesterday, a Hazards Campaign spokesperson said: “Cameron’s linking of the recent social unrest to “‘elf and safety gorn mad” is not only complete rubbish but completely crass and scraping the bottom of the daft ideas barrel. What next – the unrest in Syria down to ‘elf and safety? Our rubbish summer – ‘elf and safety! The failure of the England football team to win anything – ‘elf and safety!

“To link the looting to health and safety legislation is an absolute insult to the lad who died in crane incident in Lancashire yesterday, the lad who died on the Woolwich ferry last week, the lad who died on the tug on the Thames last week and the family of Noel Corbin whose employers have just been fined only £1. Noel’s employers went into liquidation thus avoiding any accountability or paying the penalty for the crime, not a get out clause available to rioters so why should it be available to killer employers?

“Blaming health and safety for rioting is a disgraceful insult to the 20-50,000 people who die in the UK EVERY YEAR because their employers failed to manage health and safety at their workplaces.“

“Bad and negligent employers cost the UK economy up to £30 billion every year for health and safety failings – not our figures but ten year old government figures which will be far higher now. The government’s answer to this is to let employers get away with even more killing, injuring and making workers ill, as well as looting our economy by attacking and cutting health and safety provisions. We have called on many successive governments to do what Cameron has announced in the war on “gang culture” but against those bad employers and their criminal lack of health and safety culture, and every successive bad government has refused to do it.”

“Until those who run organisations are held accountable for the consequences of their actions – death, injury and illness of workers – they will go on behaving in morally and criminally irresponsible ways. We ask when will those employers be pursued and punished in a similar way to those being sought now by government for rioting and looting?”

For more information contact:
Hilda Palmer, Hazards Campaign – 0161 636 7557

Further information

We didn’t vote to die at work campaign

Hazards Campaign

Firm fined £1 over death of satellite TV engineer, Camden New Journal

The whole story, Safety and Health Practitioner

On Workers Memorial Day the Hazards Campaign says: “Oi, Grayling! We aren’t going to let you send us back to the dark ages!”

Supporters of the The Hazards Campaign will be marking this year’s Workers Memorial Day, April 28th, with a call to arms in the fight to protect workers rights to safe and healthy workplaces.

Hilda Palmer of the Hazards Campaign said: “The path the ConDem government is taking with Chris Grayling at the helm as employment minister will kill, disable and injure more workers, not less. The corrupt equation they have used to justify their attacks on workplace health and safety and the cuts to our safety police has been well exposed. Their absolute failure to take into account the burden on the families and  friends as well as the state, who pick up the bill of billions when workers are killed or injured, or the enormous benefits to society safe workplaces provide exposes their lack of concern for workers health. On Workers Memorial Day we will all be saying “Oi, Grayling! We aren’t going to let you send us back to the dark ages!””

Workers Memorial Day is a global day to mark the damage work does – globally every year more people are killed at work or by work activities than die in wars. Workers Memorial Day’s motto is:

“Remember the dead – but fight for the living!”

Contact: Hilda Palmer, Hazards Campaign – 0161 636 7557

Hazards Campaign and other authority estimates: 1,367 – 1,517 killed in work related incidents in GB last year made up of:

•          HSE figs of the 152 workers that are reported to HSE and Local Authorities via RIDDOR which UK Statistics Authority confirms are not national work-related death fatality figures,
•          Members of the public killed by work activity = 85
•          Workers killed at sea and in the air – estimated at 30 a year
•          About 1,000 in work-related road traffic incidents
•          About 100-250 suicides due to the pressures of work

Hazards and other authority estimates of those killed by work-related illness each year

•          Includes 18,000 by work-related cancer at 12% (8-16%) at least 5,000 due to asbestos cancers
•          Heart Disease – 20% of deaths work related due to stress, long hours, shift work = up to 20,000
•          Respiratory Illness -15-20% of obstructive lung disease = about 6,000
•          Other diseases inc. restrictive lung diseases = about 6,000
•          Giving Total of up to 50,000 per year

For more information:

Workers Memorial Day background leaflet and Workers Memorial Day international activity

The ConDem anti-health and safety agenda Regulations don’t kill jobs – lack of regulation kills workers’

Downloadable WMD leaflet

More cuts in health and safety are the real Job Killers!

Responding to Work and Pension minister Chris Grayling’s announcement of yet another review of health and safety with the aim of removing yet more protection for workers’ health, safety and welfare,  the Hazards Campaign says:  “This is dangerously illogical, will have major detrimental impacts of workers health and lives, and is completely false economy as it ignores the evidence that the major burden of poor health and safety falls not on employers, but on workers and their families, but also the tax payer.  

 In his statement Chris Grayling says:  “We will also shift the cost burden of health and safety law away from the tax payer, and instead make those organisations that fail to meet their obligations pay to put things right.”  Hazards Campaign spokesperson Hilda Palmer says:   “if only this were true!  The bill for poor safety and health every year in GB is a minimum of £30 billion but employers pay less than 25% of this!  Workers and their families pay first, then the state in health and other cost, and only finally do employers pay a small proportion for the harm they cause (1).  But all the government’s policies will do the complete opposite of making employers pay:  by reducing HSE’s enforcement, by cutting the requirements on employers with dumbed down tick boxes and trusting them to do the right thing, cutting oversight via proactive inspections, there will be no way of knowing what many  employers are really doing until something goes very wrong.   It is magical thinking for Grayling to claim these proposals will do anything but remove the credible threat of enforcement action and allow non-compliant, criminal employers to get away with harming far more workers with work-related stress, strains and pain, and injuring and killing them. (2)

She added: “We do not support ludicrous bureaucracy or unnecessary restrictions, but there is a widespread but false assumption that simple rules that protect the lives, the health and the welfare of people while at work, are a terrible drain on business and the economy.  This is based on bogus figures that overstate the cost of compliance, underestimate the savings that employers make through good health and safety and completely forget to tell us that failing to comply costs all of us far more than it costs them.  It’s not costing business an arm and a leg – it’s costing us our arms, legs and every other part of our bodies!

“Grayling needs to talk not just to businesses, but to the people who bear the real burdens of poor health and safety such as the families of workers killed.  FACK members are horrified at these actions and fear many more people will be killed.   The major costs of poor workplace health and safety costs those workers injured or killed and their families a massive amount, but it also costs the tax payer £billions every year and at a time of austerity especially, we cannot afford this subsidy to lawless employers. (3)

 

Contact Hazards Campaign on 0161 636 7557

For more info see http://www.hazards.org/votetodie/; and Hazards Campaign ‘We didn’t Vote to Die at Work Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/group.php?gid=123746101003963

Notes to editors
1. Who pays? you do: http://www.hazards.org/deadlybusiness/whopays.htm;http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/pdf/costs.pdf
2. Job killers- Regulations don’t kill jobs; lacks of regulations kill workers. Pesky safety regulations and meddling inspectors are bringing the economy to its knees and stifling job creation, or so the business lobby says. But there are a couple of large flies in their deregulatory ointment – the arguments are bogus and the statistics behind them are rigged.  http://www.hazards.org/votetodie/jobkillers.htm

3. DVD ‘Face the FACKS; the human cost of workplace killing’ stories of workers killed for just going to work where their employers failed to protect them, by Families Against Corporate Killers 

 Order your DVD now and it will be posted to you. Cost £10.00 including p&p. Make cheques payable to GMHC with ‘For FACK DVD’ on back. This money will help to cover the cost of production AND support FACK’s work – you can donate more if you want! THANK YOU c/o Hazards Campaign, Windrush Millennium Centre, 70 Alexandra Road, Manchester M16 7WD Tel 0161 636 7557 mail@gmhazards.org.uk www.fack.org.uk

Sentencing of Cotswold Geotechnical Services in the first ever corporate manslaughter trial.

Hazards Campaign statement following the sentencing of Cotswold Geotechnical Services in the first ever corporate manslaughter trial

Following the fine today of £385,000.00 (to be paid back over 10 years) on Cotswold Geotechnical Holdings after their conviction under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 for the death of employee Alexander Wright, 27, the Hazards Campaign said: “Alex’s death was sadly yet another example of a wholly predictable and preventable death and a clear example of gross negligence by an employer – yet no individual employer or director has been held to account and the only sanction has been a fine, which does not reflect the seriousness of the crime of taking a life. The Health and Safety Executive says over 70% of deaths and major injuries are caused by management failings, not freak accidents.

“A fundamental flaw with the new corporate manslaughter legislation is that it holds the company responsible, not the individual directors who make the decisions which lead to these disasters, and therefore no-one can be jailed, which is the appropriate sentence for taking a life by gross negligence. Currently, individual company directors can escape legal accountability and the only way to make them take protecting workers’ safety and health seriously is to implement a law making them legally responsible for the health and safety of their organisations.

“This case could easily have been taken against the company using our existing health and safety laws which would have allowed for a fine on conviction. The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 is a damp squib with only this case against Geotech , a small company, since it came into force rather than the 12 or so a year that were predicted to hold large employers to account. Other giants, such as Corus, Veolia, BIFFA, BP and many others who have killed and maimed repeatedly, have never been charged with corporate manslaughter and few individual directors or senior manager has ever been called to answer manslaughter charges for the dangerous ways they run their businesses.

“The Hazards Campaign is also very concerned that current government attacks on health and safety law and swingeing cuts in the safety police, the Health and Safety Executive, will only make matters worse and more workers will be killed.”

For more information contact:
Hilda Palmer, Hazards Campaign – 0161 636 7557

 

Lord Young’s biased report should be binned

We didn’t vote to die at work! Lord Young’s biased report should be binned and Con-Dem government should base their policies on the evidence not prejudice say the Hazards Campaign

The Hazards Campaign says that the report produced by Lord Young is based on a mass of unsubstantiated prejudices and tabloid myth, is the antithesis of evidence-based policy making, and should not form the basis for the government’s action on health and safety. This is not the report we need now when health and safety is in a parlous state exposing far too many workers to far too great a risk and with massive extra risk coming when the cuts get underway and fewer workers will be doing the work of their sacked colleagues. We did not vote to die at work and this report will not reduce workplace illness, injury or death (1).

Hazards Campaign spokesperson said: “The evidence shows that far from good health and safety being a burden on business, it is a positive bonus to employers, but also that the real burden of poor health and safety in terms of injury, illness and death is massive and is borne mainly by workers, their families and the state in benefits and health care cost, as employers pay only 25% of the very conservative cost of £30 billion per year. (2)

“The report is based on the figures used by the HSE for deaths, injuries and illness at work which are a mere fraction of the real total (3) which is nearer 1,500 killed in work-related incidents, up to 50,000 due to work-related illness, and millions suffering ill-health but soldiering on at work every year (4).

“The evidence is that enforcement isn’t over the top, with far too few inspectors spread too thinly so that workplaces may only be inspected once every 38 years. Prosecutions and investigations are all massively down over the last ten years and there’s 37% less regulation than there was 15 years ago. Few employers are ever prosecuted and then they mostly receive paltry and derisory fines which are not a credible deterrent. (4)

“There is no’ compensation culture’ as government report after report, and all the facts show. Claims under Employers Compulsory Liability Insurance, Clinical Negligence and Public Liability Insurance are all down, with only road traffic claims showing an increase. And in the case of work-related illness and injury, and even death, less than 10% of workers receive any compensation! Far from a compensation culture, there is a laissez faire culture that allows employers to do pretty much what they want and workers hurt by this negligence are left to cope as best they can. (5)

“The report has a very shaky grasp of the enormous iceberg that is occupational ill-health which many experts agree is at an all time high, with stress and musculo-skeletal injuries at epidemic levels and very prevalent in offices and shops and other workplaces falsely labelled ‘non-hazardous’.

“Lord Young does not appear to have heeded any of the facts or evidence put before him by the TUC, trade unions or Families Against Corporate Killers, which went against the bunch of prejudices and tabloid myths he calls ‘common sense’. The report rarely lets the facts get in the way of a good tabloid scare story.

“The report is clearly an ideological, fact-free unevidenced attack on workers conditions and far from being about ‘Common Safety’ it aims to divide workers and dismantle the current universal protection for all workers’ health, safety and welfare. ‘Common sense’ doesn’t protect workers The real aim of this report and the governments plans are to cut health and safety protection to the bone and beyond, leave employers free to make workers ill, injure them and kill them with impunity.

The real shame will be the Con-Dem government using the excuse of reducing the deficit – caused by bankers exploiting the lack of regulation and enforcement – to push through deregulation and massive cuts in health and safety enforcement while falsely claiming ‘we’re all in it together.” For more information contact Hilda Palmer 0161 636 7557

Notes for Editors

1. We didn’t vote to die at work, Hazards magazine;

2. Who pays? You do, Hazards magazine

3. The UK Statistics Authority in their Report 42 on Assessments of compliance with Code of Practice for official statistics – Statistics on Health and Safety at Work (produced by the HSE) Published May 2010 Para 1.3.4: ‘Statistics on work-related injuries and fatalities exclude those injuries that take place on the roads, in the air, at sea and exclude the armed forces. Although this is clearly acknowledged on HSE’s website, it is not always made clear in the presentation of the statistics- for example, when addressing the organisation’s targets in the compendium for publication. HSE does not produce an overall figure for work-related fatalities in Great Britain.’

4. The Whole Story Safety and Health Practitioner December 2008:

5. The case for Health and Safety, TUC:

6. Compensation, Hazards magazine

The government’s attack on health and safety will kill – not save lives!

We didn’t vote to die at work! The government’s attack on health and safety will kill – not save lives!

David Cameron’s ill informed ” ‘elf and safety gorn mad” attack dog, Lord Young, will set out his plans for the future of health and safety in the next few days – and the Hazards Campaign fears it won’t be good news based on what we know already and says: ‘We didn’t vote to die at work.’

The Hazards Campaign claims the evidence shows the whole basis for Lord Young’s attack is false. Lord Young’s ‘review’ is based on the argument there has been a massive rise in compensation cases – the facts say there hasn’t been. He says businesses have to spend a day a month on health and safety – workers dream of employers paying even that small level of attention to the issue.

Lord Young has persistently argued less hazardous workplaces should be exempt from inspections. He has targeted office work saying it’s not dangerous and doesn’t need any enforcement oversight. However, many thousands of office workers face work-related ill-health caused by long hours of work, excessive workloads and bullying management practices leading to stress-related illness such as heart disease and depression, plus musculo-skeletal problems from computer work. All of which can make the office a very unhealthy place to work. Even so, offices are currently unlikely to see in an inspector in a lifetime unless something goes drastically wrong.

The Hazards Campaign has previously criticised government estimates of the costs of complying with health and safety law to business as failing to take into account the positive effects of compliance – the enormous cost to workers and their families, and the fact that the state picks up the majority of the bill for the death injury and illnesses caused by employers in NHS treatment, benefits and so on. The HSE estimate this cost to UK society at a minimum of £30 billion every year, of which the employers who caused it, pay less than 25%.

During his review Lord Young has spoken to people who have presented him with facts which undermine his basic argument that over-zealous activity on health and safety at work is the root of all our problems. We fear he may not heed what he has been told – that enforcement has declined massively over the last ten years, there are more traffic wardens in London than there are HSE inspectors in the whole of the country, and no-one ever died, or was injured or made ill by an over zealous risk assessment – but plenty have been by the lack of one. The Hazards Campaign fears the “consultation” is a sham to legitimise the forthcoming attacks by the coalition government on the regulation and enforcement of workplace safety and health.

Following the publication of Lord Young’s report the ConDem government will decide how to implement it, which presents a severe challenge to the Lib Dems. The Lord Young review was a pre-election Conservative Party policy and they are only in government as result of coalition with the Liberal Democrats who did not sign up to this, and it does not feature in the joint agreement between the parties. Vince Cable, now the coalition Business Secretary, has previously spoken out in defence of health and safety and the funding of the HSE. In May 2003, Vince Cable, then the Lib Dem shadow trade secretary, criticised government plans to cut HSE’s budget because of the impact this will have on prosecution levels. He warned that it was “critical that the HSE invest in a sufficient, effective, properly trained resource to investigate and prosecute where negligence has occurred.” He also said: “The time has come to invest seriously in saving people’s lives and to call cavalier killers to account”. The Hazards Campaign says it is time for the Lib Dems to stand up and be counted, as none of us voted for the current onslaught on health and safety protection and cuts in its enforcement.

Rather than cut the protection to any workers, the Hazards Campaign calls for:

Strengthening the enforcement role of the HSE and Local Authority inspectors to prevent employers killing, disabling, maiming and making people unwell at work, and bringing Vince Cables ‘Cavalier killers to account’.

No businesses should be exempt from the enforcement regime, such as by “earned autonomy”, as these are failed models and evidence from the HSE’s own prosecution database shows that many employers are serial offenders, some are even serial killers, so we cannot trust business with workers lives and health.

Laws placing explicit health and safety duties on company directors who make the decisions which lead to disasters like Buncefield, ICL/Stockline, and serial killing of employers like BP and Corus, to make them individually accountable, having to face the full force of the law for their actions.

More individual employers who make the decisions which cause widespread ill-health, deaths and disasters, should face jail. Only a handful of employers has ever been jailed for negligently killing workers while dozens who mistreat animals go to prison every year.

Workers should be given more rights to defend themselves against hazardous employers. Trade union safety reps save lives and do it voluntarily, often in difficult circumstances which risk their job and career. Yet they are officially recognised for reducing accidents and ill-health at work via the union safety effect. They need more support and enforcement resources to do their jobs even more effectively

Hazards Campaign Chair adds: “No-one voted to die at work in the last election, but the coalition government policies so far, through the Lord Young review, other deregulatory policies, plus the planned cuts in public services, threaten the regulation and enforcement of workplace safety and health. They risk condemning more workers to death injury and ill-health.”

For more information contact:

Hilda Palmer, Hazards Campaign – 0161636 7557

For more information:

We didn’t vote to die at work: http://www.hazards.org/votetodie/

The case for health and safety (TUC):http://www.tuc.org.uk/extras/the_case_for_health_and_safety.pdf

A neutered watchdog (an analysis of HSE’s collapsing enforcement performance):http://www.hazards.org/votetodie/neutered.htm

Trade union safety effect: http://www.tuc.org.uk/workplace/tuc-8382-f0.cfm

Hazards Campaign: http://www.hazardscampaign.org.uk/

Call for action following another Corus death

“Following yet another worker death on a Corus site we ask again – When will senior directors of companies such as Corus be held personally accountable for their serial killing and injuring workers?”

Following the news of another death at Corus, Scunthorpe on Saturday, which itself follows the death there in April of 26 year old Thomas Standerline – The Hazards Campaign again asks: “When will senior directors of companies such as Corus be held personally accountable for their serial killing and injuring workers? We also want to know what plans Lord Young and David Cameron will announce to stop this ever happening again in their forthcoming review of health and safety?”

The Hazards Campaign says given the history of repeated criminality of the company (see below) and the deadly nature of their crimes – why hasn’t any senior director been called to account in the courts for causing all this death, disability and injury?

Corus’s abysmal health and safety record is illustrated by the 16 separate entries in the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE’s) prosecutions database which relate to death and injury, AND……… the 24 separate entries in the HSE’s notices database, including many stop work notices, since 2001. These incidents include the Port Talbot furnace explosion where Stephen Galsworthy, 25, Andrew Hutin, 20, and Len Radford, 53 were all killed in 2001.

The Hazards Campaign calls upon the government and other parties to explain where they stand on this issue of the failure of the existing legal system to change the behaviour of a company,  what they will do about it and why those individuals who ran this deadly company at the time have not been personally called to answer in court.

The Hazards Campaign believes the evidence shows that directors of companies with a similar record will get away with it too, unless a positive legal duty to be responsible for the health and safety of their organisation is imposed on all directors.

Corus has faced several ‘large fines’ for killing and injuring workers.  While the fine of £1.3 million, plus £1.7 million costs imposed on Corus in December 2006 for the killing of three workers in the Port Talbot furnace explosion, was heralded as exemplary, may seem large, it has not stopped them from committing more offences and injuring and killing more workers. It should also be noted that after that large fine Corus took delivery of a new £75 million blast furnace courtesy of their insurance.  Fines  may look large but are a drop in the ocean of the company’s turnover and profits and act as no real deterrent as Corus has shown. Again and again.

The Hazards Campaign says company directors and employers will not give due regard to preventing workplace death, disability, injury and ill-health until they are held personally liable.

Contacts:
Mick Holder – 020 8223 0712
Hilda Palmer – 0161 636 7557

Hazards Campaign:
http://www.hazardscampaign.org.uk/

 

Corus’s recent prosecution history:

April 2010 – Corus (UK) Ltd fined £240,000 after a lorry driver Ross Beddow was crushed to death at its site in Staffordshire.

March 2010 – Corus UK Ltd fined £10,000 following an explosion in a 75-metre-tall steel chimney in Scunthorpe.

March 2010 – Corus UK Ltd fined £100,000 after a worker at Rotherham luckily escaped with only minor injuries after the crane he was operating overturned.

March 2010 – Corus UK Limited, trading as Corus Special Profiles, fined £5,000 after a worker was injured while clearing a jam in the production line at a factory in Skinningrove, East Cleveland.

Sept 2008 – Corus UK Ltd, trading as Corus Tubes in Hartlepool, was fined £15,000 after worker was hit by falling beam.

April 2008 – Corus UK Ltd fined £170,000 after Shane Eastwood was killed when he was crushed while working at Rotherham.

Feb 2008 – Corus UK Ltd, trading as Corus Packaging Plus fined £250,000 following the death of Francis Coles in Llanelli.

Aug 2007 – Corus UK Ltd fined £125,000 after an employee received life-threatening burns at their Appleby site.

And that’s not all…….There’s loads more prosecutions of Corus UK Ltd companies recorded on the HSE enforcement databases here:

http://www.hse.gov.uk/enforce/prosecutions.htm

For even more information see:

http://www.hazards.org/corus/

Miniscule fines and no jail for those guilty Buncefield explosion

Prosecuted for running a filthy pizza restaurant – get a suspended jail sentence and banned from running a food business; Blow up an oil depot in the biggest mainland explosion in 60 years and miraculously avoid killing hundreds – miniscule fines for the five companies responsible compared to their profits, with no senior manager held personally responsible and no jail!

Hilda Palmer, spokesperson for the Hazards Campaign said: “We have campaigned for bigger fines and for holding directors accountable for their actions for many years, so the miniscule, inadequate fines levied on those responsible for the Buncefield explosion is no surprise and will, yet again, act as no deterrent (1).

“The fines are also far too low to reflect in any way the immense damage caused to the 43 people injured, to the local community and environment but we see yet again how corporations behaving badly externalise the costs of their crimes – in this case at least £1 billion! – on to the community and the rest of society and are allowed to get away with it again and again. On the same day a Birmingham restaurant owner was given a 36 week suspended prison sentence for a dirty pizzeria and banned from running a food business (2). As none of the directors of the three companies that caused the massive Buncefield explosion was held accountable in court, such a penalty was not available.

“The fact that the local MP also thinks the fines are far too small (3) is surprising as his Conservative party, now part of the coalition government, is a vehement supporter of the deregulation of health and safety law and its enforcement as unnecessary red tape. They continue with their mantra that safety laws are a huge and untenable burden on business, with Lord Young currently reviewing health and safety with a view to cutting this so-called burden. The Buncefield explosion shows that even in extremely hazardous industries, employers fail on a monumental scale to comply with the most basic and common sense of procedures, apparently untroubled by threats of being caught or of penalties they may suffer which amount to hundredths of one percent of their profits, as in this case. The fact that no-one was killed and more were not injured was pure luck, but many hundreds of people have had their lives and livelihoods immeasurably damaged by the criminal behaviour of these three companies. No worker and no one living anywhere near a large corporation can feel any safer as a result of the fines on these companies.

“It is time to be clear that the current enforcement of health and safety, and punishment of those guilty of breaking the law, is not working and needs strengthening, not weakening with more funding and support or we are all in danger. It is also time to be clear that tiny fractions of one percent of a large company’s profits will not harm them much, and that those who make the decisions which lead to such horrendous breaches of very basic health and safety precautions must be held accountable. It is simply not justice that the owner of a dirty pizza shop faces jail and is banned, but causing the biggest explosion in peace time results in miniscule fines. The directors of Total, Hertfordshire Oil Storage Ltd and British Pipeline Agency Ltd, TAV Engineering Ltd and Motherwell Control Systems should face the consequences of their actions and inactions, via legal duties on directors, and face jail for their crimes, or we will see more incidents like this.

“It must be very clear now to the local MP and everyone else, but especially the Tories and Lord Young (,) that deregulation of health and safety and cuts in its enforcement are not going to prevent another incident like this, and that deregulation has been blown-to smithereens in the Buncefield explosion – We did not vote to die at work and we expect MPs to stand up for our lives, not make them more hazardous.”

More information Hilda Palmer 0161 636 7557

Notes

1.http://www.hse.gov.uk/press/2010/hse-buncefieldsentencing.htm

2. http://www.cieh.org/ehn/ehn3.aspx?id=31842

3. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/mp-calls-buncefield-blast-fines-an-insult-2028409.html