Hazards Conference is the UK’s biggest and best educational and organising event for trade union safety reps and activists. It consists of a mixture of plenary sessions, meetings and a comprehensive workshop programme. Delegates have the opportunity to exchange experience and information with, and learn from, safety reps and activists from other unions, sectors and jobs across the UK. It’s great craic too!
Safety Reps @ 40: Vital to the Future of Safe and Healthy Work!
27th to 29th July 2018, Keele University, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire.
We are grateful for the generous support for Hazards 2017 by our sponsors in Unions nationally, regionally, at branches, trades councils, individuals, and union-linked personal injury solicitors.
We hope this vital support will continue for Hazards 2018.
Feedback was excellent from 350 safety reps and activists, around half of whom were new delegates, from all types of workplaces, all unions, and from all over the UK, coming together to discuss ‘Organising health, safety and welfare in an insecure world’.
Hazards Conference is the UK’s biggest and best educational and organising event for trade union safety reps and activists from all different sectors, trade unions, organisations and workplaces. Delegates have a unique opportunity to prioritise and concentrate on health and safety concerns and talk to national and international health and safety campaigners, activists and trade unionists.
At Hazards 2017 we were privileged to have Jessica Martinez speaking. Jessica is the director of US COSH, which is facing major challenges because of the deregulatory agenda of the Trump regime and the cut to funding to their organisation. In addition there have been a number of huge hurricanes which have not only cost lives but absolutely devastated local communities and environments and caused major occupation safety catastrophes. Dan Shears,GMB National Health, Safety and Environment Director gave an overview of how UK occupational health and safety will be affected by Brexit.
The conference is an opportunity to hear from workers and organisers involved in industrial action about current health, safety and welfare issues. The ‘Better than zero’ organiser Bryan Simpson spoke passionately about their inspirational campaigning work and Barry Faulkner on the Sports Direct action. Paul Maloney the author of ‘The Therapy Industry’, addressed a session on individual therapy vs collective action. Helen Lynn from Alliance for Cancer Prevention and Susan Murray from Unite spoke at a meeting on ‘Towards zero work-related cancer’. There were various campaign meetings: on asbestos, workplace welfare, international solidarity, dangers of dogs, and FACK. There were also legal updates given by different solicitors on various health and safety issues and speakers from Unison, Prospect and Usdaw. There was a choice of eighteen workshops, and many first time representatives that were able to gain new knowledge and skills to take back to their workplaces. We try to ensure there are several new workshops each year.
Tracey Seward (FACK) and her brother Mick Lancaster spoke emotionally about the devastating impact of the death of her husband Mark on their family and daughter Daisy. Finally we launched the Hazards Campaign e-postcards ‘We love red tape, it’s better than bloody bandages’ campaign, against deregulation. www.hazardscampaign.org.uk/postcards A full report of the conference can be found at www.hazardscampaign.org.uk
Please find a copy of all the organisations that sponsored the conference this year, on the reverse of this appeal. The sponsorship is extremely important as it means that we can keep down the price of the conference to individuals and union branches.Please consider our appeal positively.
BACS payments are available or cheques made payable to Hazards 2018, and sent to: Hazards 2018, GMHC, Windrush Millennium Centre, 70 Alexandra Road, Manchester, M16 7WD. Telephone: 0161 636 7558, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Choose and sign-up for ONE Saturday Campaign meeting at Registration Listed here.
17.00 – 19.30 Evening Meal
19.30 – 21.00 Opening Plenary in Westminster Theatre
Chair:Doug Russell, USDAW; opening remarks Speakers:Janet Newsham, Hazards Campaign: Welcome and Conference arrangements; Jessica Martinez, Director National COSH, USA; Dan Shears, GMB; Tracey Seward, FACK; Mick Lancaster GMB/FACK
Saturday 29th July
07.30 – 9.00 Registration for later arrivals/non-residential delegates
07.00 – 08.45 Breakfast
09.00 – 10.30 First Workshop Session
10.30– 11.00 Tea/Coffee Break
11.00 – 12.30 Second Workshop Session
12.30 – 14.00 Lunch
14.00 – 15.45Three Meetings
Challenging the individual therapy view versus collective action to prevent work causing mental ill-health Chair: Hugh Robertson, TUC; Speaker: Paul Maloney, Psychologist, author of ‘The Therapy Industry’
Towards zero work-related cancer Chair: Kathy Jenkins, Scottish Hazards; Speakers: Helen Lynn Alliance for Cancer Prevention; Susan Murray UNITE
Using new methods of organising on health and safety Chair: Janet Newsham, GM Hazards Centre; Speakers: Barry Faulkner, UNITE; Gareth Lane BFAWU; Michael Newman, Leigh Day; Bryan Simpson, Better than Zero.
15.45 – 16.00 Tea/Coffee Break
16.00 – 17.30 Campaign Meetings – Room allocation signs are displayed at Registration
19.00 – 20.30 Dinner
Sunday 30th July
07.30 – 09.15 Breakfast
Clear rooms- bring cases to secure room in registration area
10.00 – 12.00 Closing Plenary in Westminster theatre
Chair: Hazards Campaign: ‘Enough is Enough: End deregulation now !
Speakers: Matt Wrack, General Secretary, FBU, Hazards Campaign; Others tbc;
12.00 – 13.30 Packed Lunch – eat with us or take away & depart
Don’t forget to complete an evaluation form and leave it at registration.
27th to 29th July Hazards 2018 at Keele University
Leave a self-addressed envelope at registration to be kept informed.
Internnal solidarity to combat attacks on workers; lives and health
Main health and safety problems facing workers worldwide including Brexit, CETA and the alphabet soup of other toxic ‘free trade;’ treaties Developing Global Occupational Safety and Health Networks GOSH to fight back.
Chair: Kathy Jenkins, Scottish Hazards; Speakers: Jessica Martinez, USA National COSH
Campaigning against Asbestos in schools, in all workplaces, in UK and globally
Update on campaigning locally, nationally and globally to get asbestos banned globally, to get asbestos removed from schools and other workplaces and for better treatment and compensation for sufferers.
Chair: Philip Lewis LASAG and LHC; Speakers Sarah Lyons, Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC)/NUT; Harminder Bains, Leigh Day Solicitors; Graham Dring, Chair of Asbestos Victims Support Groups
Update on the legal state of health and safety
Recent legal changes to legal aid, tribunals, personal injury/ work-death, stress cases, TU Bill, and their implications for workers and union safety reps.
Chair: tbc; Speakers: Satinder Bains and Keith Cundall, Irwin Mitchell
Dogs can be dangerous
Raising awareness of the hazards of dogs to workers who call or enter a premises, the preventative measures developed jointly CWU and Royal Mail to reduce the risk – prevent serious injuries or death. What union safety reps can do in discussions with their employers to improve policies or improve them to protect workers.
Chair: Lynsey Mann, GMB: Speakers Andrew Hickerman and Tony Pedal, CWU
Work-Related Death, supporting families and fighting back
What FACK does in supporting families after a work-death and advocating for them through the investigation, inquest and any prosecutions. Using our stories in campaigning and how supporting solicitors provide essential legal representation to ensure equality of arms at Inquests. Issues arising from Grenfell.
Chair: Hilda Palmer, FACK, Speakers: Tracey Seward, Michael Lancaster FACK members; Helen Clifford, McMillan Williams Solicitors. Families Against Corporate Killers , FACK, is supported by TU donations and sponsorship from Irwin Mitchell and McMillan Williams solicitors.
Whatever happened to welfare ?
Welfare at work – it’s the poor relation to Health and Safety these days. What happened to the lunch hour? Has your tea-break been sold? Do you eat lunch at your desk these days – where did staff common rooms or canteens go? Share our experience of reduced welfare facilities at work. What else should we demand from employers? Let’s make improved welfare provision a workplace campaign this year.
Chair Janet Newsham; Speaker John Bamford, GM Hazards Centre
Air pollution as a Workplace issue
Air pollution is a public health emergency and is linked to at least 40,000 deaths on the UK each year. It is a workplace issue taken up by the Greener Jobs Alliance, UCU and Hazards Campaign. What can we do about it as union safety reps?
Chair Caroline Bedale; Speaker Adam Lincoln, UCU Health, Safety and Sustainability Advisor
Hazards Conference is the UK’s biggest and best educational and organising event for trade union safety reps and activists. As usual, we have invited a number of international and national trade union leaders, academics and campaigners who will share their knowledge and experience. A comprehensive workshop programme to improve your skills and provide you with practical information to support your role as a rep/steward.
The opening plenary on Friday evening will feature inspiring speakers including Jessica Martinez from Hazards Campaign sister organisation, US National COSH to talk about the joint threats we face and how we can work together to fight them. There will be great discussions in the plenaries and in meetings. One of the three meetings is about the therapy industry being used to individualise mental ill health in the workplace, undermining employers’ responsibility to control the risks and ignoring the effect of government policies and spending cuts causing growing poverty and inequality. Another meeting will focus on how we eliminate hazardous substances such as carcinogens in the workplace and environment, and a third one on how we engage vulnerable and exploited workers in new organising methods. In addition, there will be a number of campaign meetings, where activists will share information about their campaign successes and challenges.
Hazards 2017 takes place in the wonderful setting of Keele University and is attended by over 350 trade union reps from all unions, from different sectors and employers. There will be plenty of trade union resources available at the exhibition stall for you to take away, along with developing your network of contacts, knowledge and organising skills to improve your workplace health and safety. So you can go home revitalised to educate, agitate and organise to make work safe!
Hazards 2016 conference 29-31th July 2016, Keele University
Building Resistance to Support Safety Reps
The Hazards conference is the largest conference in the northern hemisphere solely for Trade Union health and safety reps. This year’s was called ‘Building Resistance to Support Safety Reps. It was a packed weekend with 350 delegates, fantastic speakers, valuable workshops and inspiring meetings.
Hazards 2016 started with the Friday plenary session. Hilda Palmer of the Hazards Campaign welcomed delegates, explained what the Hazards Campaign is, listed useful website links, outlined #Haz2016 theme, the new format programme and arrangements, gave thanks to sponsors, and noted that a third to half of delegates are new to Hazards.
The Hazards Campaign’s blunt message to the new Prime Minister warns her not to neglect the effective regulation and strict enforcement of safety laws
Delegates were asked to sign a ‘Stop it you’re killing us’ postcard included in their delegate bag, to send one by e-mail , share it on Twitter and Facebook, and take it back to workplaces and branches. The introduction ended with a minute silence to remember all those workers – over 50,000 – who have died at, and by, work over the last year and especially Linda Whelan a founder member of FACK, Families Against Corporate Killers, and those killed in multi-fatality incidents such as the five migrant workers killed at Hawkeswood Metals, in Birmingham, the four killed at Bosley Wood Flour Mill, and the four killed at Didcot power station, of whom three were still buried under the rubble.
Aida Ponce Del from the European Trade Union Institute brought solidarity greetings and the message that ‘Despite Brexit ‘Occupational health and safety should REMAIN’.
Dr. Anne Raynal, an ex-HSE senior medical inspector described ‘HSE’s failure to enforce the duty to prevent occupational diseases’. Anne spoke about the lack of reporting from employers on workplace illness and the subsequent lack of prosecutions and enforcement. She said “On average there are only 1,600 disease notifications under RIDDOR per annum for the 516,000 new cases of work-related ill health that HSE estimate occurs every year, a staggeringly low 0.03% reported. Consequently there is little action, prosecution or active prevention taking place to stop workers being made ill by work.”
Professor Steve Tombs from the Open University and Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, spoke about his recent research: ‘Better regulation’ Better for whom? Steve talked about ‘dismantling a system of regulation – social protection – which was put into place from the 1830s onwards’, the privatisation of enforcement and the restrictive ‘Growth duty’ placed on enforcers. He detailed the reduction in the number of HSE and Local Authority inspections (fell by 69%, preventive inspection fell by 96% for Local Authority Environmental Health Officers, EHOs), prosecutions (fell by 35% for HSE and 60% for L.A. EHOs). Steve also raised concern about the Primary Authority Scheme which enables businesses across different local authorities to elect one authority to regulate all of its sites across all LAs. A copy of Steve’s briefing was provided in delegates’ bags and can also be found here.
Under the new format, there was no Saturday plenary, so delegates went straight from a hearty breakfast into a full-on programme of workshops, seminars and meetings that were broken down into three themes: 1. Workplace organisation, 2. Dealing with risks and 3. Employers offensive/Workplace tyranny.
Seminar 3Sharing experiences of prioritising action against employers offensive
Meeting 3UK and global threats to health and safety organisation
Ian Tasker of STUC spoke on Threats to health and safety in Scotland. He illustrated the higher rate of work harm than in England and Wales, the need for devolution of enforcement and regulation of health and safety; the Smith Commission, the Action Plan for Scotland and he linked workplace deaths, injuries and illnesses with austerity and poverty.
Hugh Robertson made clear that trade deals such as CETA and post Brexit trade deals are the biggest threat to health and safety See Global threats
Hugh also made the excellent point that the HSE boasts of GB having the ‘best health and safety in the world’ with low fatality and injury figures is only because our manufacturing is outsourced to Asia where making those same goods probably causes more deaths, injuries and ill-health now than when they were made in this country.
Omana George, Director of Asia Monitor Resource Centre, AMRC, spoke about the huge health and safety risk facing workers in almost all sectors in Asia – now the workshop of the world – and especially affecting informal, unorganised workers. She described the work of AMRC and of ANROEV, the Asian Network for the Rights of Occupational and Environmental Victims. She described how about ten years ago they began to focus more on occupational ill health thinking the worst disasters of factory fires were over… But then they started happening all over again. Omana George AMRC
One of the six campaign meetings to end the day was run by Sarah Wiktorski from the ‘Better than Zero’ campaign. It was very inspiring describing their work in Scotland with trade unions and the Scottish TUC. the actions were led by young people who used challenging and innovative activities against zero hours contracts and working practices which include having to pay multi millionaire restaurant owners a percentage of their earnings. (See YouTube clip below).
Another inspiring campaign meeting was run by Barry Faulkner of UNITE on the health and safety problems experienced by vulnerable workers at the Shirebrook depot of Sports Direct . He described how those workers fought back with the aid of union and community groups .
The final plenary on Sunday started with Sarah Wiktorski on the ‘Better than Zero’ campaign and was followed by David Hardman, UCU, who along with colleague Mark Campbell was victimised then sacked from London Metropolitan University. David for his activities on stress as a safety rep.
Sanjiv Pandita, ex Director of AMRC and now working with the Hazards Magazine and Campaign and activists round the world to set up a Global Occupational Safety and Health, GOSH, network to combat the global threats to our lives and health. Sanjiv talked about the huge manufacturing companies employing 50-80 thousand workers in enormous hangars who make our phones and trainers. He showed pictures of the slums they are forced to live in because of the poverty wages they are paid, reminiscent of the UK Victorian slums during the industrial revolution. Sanjiv reminded us of the way global capitalism pits us against each other, and exports hazards and ill health to other workers to make the products we buy and use and why we must work together globally to fight back, hence the need for GOSH. He talked about the lack of accurate reporting of deaths, injuries and illness caused by work in Asia, which means that India’s high work death rate appears, theoretically, comparable to that of Denmark! He showed a rough recalculation, using Hazards Magazine/Campaign estimates, that pointed to the the death toll in Asia being at least 4 million workers per year! PowerPoint presentation
We also heard from Blacklisting Support Group campaigner Royston Bentham on their great achievements and what must be done next. Royston praised and thanked John McDonnell for all the support he and Jeremy Corbyn have given the blacklisted workers and how they have fought alongside them every step on the way through Scottish enquiries and court cases. See the Hazards magazine feature Victory!
The Hazards Campaign demands were read out and voted upon before John McDonnell, shadow chancellor got up to speak and told us we would have all of those and more.
John McDonnell met his promise to speak to the conference, made months ago in less hectic times, and came early and stayed late, talking time to talk knowledgeably to delegates about their specific issues. As John had been criticised for not doing anything for workers, the irony of his commitment was not lost on the delegates. John’s speech promised that health and safety and trade union rights would be at the top of the agenda of the Labour opposition and any future government led by Jeremy Corbyn. he accepted our demands, added to them and invited us to send him a paper which he promised to put to the shadow cabinet for debate.
There were many highlights from the conference, plenty of networking and sharing of information including: the reps that talked about the lack of welfare-toilet facilities available to them because they were drivers or weren’t being released to be able to take toilet breaks; the terrible slum conditions people are working in in Asia who make phones and trainers; the lack of protection and enforcement for UK workers, and finally the inspirational speech by John McDonnell who offered the support of the Labour Party to Health and Safety reps and the Hazards Campaign.