More than 370 delegates registered for our first ever zoom conference which was held on Saturday 1st August, 2020. Doug Russell the National Health and Safety Officer at USDAW chaired the opening plenary session and was joined by international speakers from Nepal, Hong Kong, Australia, US and Denmark after Louise Taggart spoke from FACK and also Shelly Asquith the newly appointed TUC health and safety policy officer. This provided an international and national picture of how Covid-19 pandemic was impacting on workers and how they were responding.
A recording of the plenary session can be found here or view below:
After the plenary session , there were four different workshops with a plethora of fantastic, engaging, interesting and inspiring speakers – notes from some of those presentations are available below.
Over 500 people participated in the different meetings during the day. The event was a brilliant opportunity to continue the Hazards Conference tradition of grass root activism which brings together trade union safety reps and officers, academics and health, safety and environmental activists and campaigners.
Many thanks to all those who spoke, chaired, participated and encouraged. It wasn’t our usual Keele event but it was an inspiring and unique event and I hope to see many of you next year in person at Keele.
Janet Newsham (On behalf of the Hazards Conference Organising Committee)
Hazards Conference 2021 will be on Friday 30th July to Sunday 1st August 2021
Join us for the Hazards 2020 Conference online on 1st August!
Sign up , circulate to safety reps and activists and let’s get a great turn out for the first ever Hazards Conference online via Zoom!
Workers health and safety is paramount now and must be central to organising safe and healthy workplaces to create the decent jobs for decent lives for all as we rebuild a better future, no going back to neoliberal deadly business as usual normal.
This unique Zoom based online conference starts with an international plenary and is followed by four specific subject workshops with brilliant speakers and experts throughout the day.
Each Zoom workshop will start at the advertised time and will provide an opportunity to join in the discussions and together help formulate action plans to direct Hazards Campaign work priorities for the next 12 months.
10.00 – 11.30 Plenary – with international speakers on Covid-19 and the impact on workers
12.00 – 13.00 Safety reps taking the lead! – during and after Covid-19
13.30– 14.30 Fighting inequality in health and safety
15.00 – 16.00 Mental Health and Covid-19
16.30- 17.30 Toxics Out! Air pollution, just transition after Covid-19
The conference is free of charge but if you, or your branch/organisation, would like to donate to the Hazards Campaign please pay by bank transfer to:
Name: Hazards 2020
Account number: 20090430
Sort Code: 608301
Bank: Unity Trust Bank, Four Brindleyplace, Birmingham, B1 2JB. Ref: Your organisation/name
It will probably come as no surprise that the Hazards Campaign has cancelled the Hazards Conference 2020 due to the Covid-19 Coronavirus pandemic.
We were and still are hoping that the spread of the virus will subside by then, but we also have to recognise that public events are now being cancelled and we cannot predict what the situation will be like by July, and with such uncertainty the recruitment and sponsorship for the conference will be detrimentally impacted. That along with the likelihood of a second wave hitting the UK in the autumn, means we will not be able to hold it even later in the year.
Many of you will realise this will have a major financial impact on the Hazards Campaign and the Greater Manchester Hazards Centre, GMHC, which runs the secretariat and organises and runs the annual Hazards Conference on behalf of the Hazards Campaign.
The Hazards Campaign is a network of hazards organisations, union safety reps and officers, asbestos groups and activists, and has no secure funding.
The annual Hazards Conference, which relies on generous financial sponsorship from the trade union movement, helps to fund Hazards Campaign work throughout the year in promoting and resourcing International Workers Memorial Day, speaking at union conferences, seminars, branch meetings and on TUC and Union health and safety training courses across the UK, running specific national campaigns such as the Trade Union Clean Air Network and lobbying and campaigning on all issues affecting workers’ lives and health.
GMHC is a not for profit organisation with no secure annual income other than what we raise annually from grants and fee paying work on behalf of the union movement, and a large proportion of that income is linked to the organisation of the annual Hazards Conference
GMHC provides free advice to workers and reps on health and safety issues, and supports families of workers killed at work. In part we receive payment for work carried out on behalf of the trade union movement, for delivering specialist training, information sheets, delivering conferences, health and safety updates etc.
All this is being impacted by the current situation as is the work of trade unions, branches and workers in all sectors across the economy.
Coronaviorus threatens the lives, health, livelihoods and security of millions of workers and their families across the UK. We obviously understand all organisations are facing many hurdles and you have our sincere sympathy. Many workers will be facing much worse in coming months and we will provide as much support as we can.
We are exploring different options to continue our work supporting trade unions and safety reps. We will need to make a separate financial appeal in the near future, to enable our organisation to continue over the next 12 months. Most of you will know we work on a shoestring and much of the support is provided on a voluntary basis.
Many trade union branches, regions and national bodies have already provided sponsorship for this year’s conference and we are politely requesting your organisation defers this sponsorship so that money can be transferred to next year’s conference, Hazards 2021, rather than having to reimburse you. If this is not possible please email us and we will arrange for the money to be returned.
It is with extremely heavy heart that we make this decision. This would have been the 31st Hazards Conference and we know that many safety reps and officers value this event. We are extremely sorry that serious events beyond our control have forced us to make this decision. We would also like to record our thanks for your continued support and hope that you will appreciate the difficult decision we have had to make. We will continue to campaign and stand in solidarity with trade union reps and trade unions.
Thank you and Solidarity Greetings!
on behalf of Hazards Campaign Secretariat
Janet Newsham Coordinator of GMHC Acting Chair of Hazards Campaign
Temporarily based at: 177 Watling Street Road, Fulwood, Preston PR2 8AE
Tel: 07734 317 158 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The 2019 National Hazards Conference, billed as the UK’s “biggest and best educational and organising event for trade union safety reps and activists”, will be held in Stoke-on-Trent from 26-28 July. The theme this year is ‘Cleaning up toxic work’ in increasingly insecure workplaces.
Speakers include Amanda Hawes, a US lawyer and victims’ advocate who specialises in occupational and environmental health compensation cases, world-renowned chemical safety and occupational cancer expert professor Andrew Watterson of Stirling University, former TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson, BFAWU environment officer Sarah Woolley, Unite member and TGI Fridays activist Claire Trevor and GMB health and safety director Dan Shears.
Safety Reps @ 40: Still Vital to the Future of Safe and Healthy Work!
Hazards Conference 2018
The 29th Hazards Conference was held at Keele University, 27–29 July, 2018. It is the UK’s biggest and best educational and organising event for trade union safety reps and activists. It consisted of a mixture of plenary sessions, meetings and a comprehensive workshop programme. Delegates took the opportunity to exchange experience and information with, and learn from, safety reps
and activists from other unions, sectors and jobs across the UK. Hazards 2018 addressed some of the most important issues facing workers providing practical skills, improving knowledge and giving delegates a new confidence to conduct their roles in the workplace.
Find below a full report of the conference compiled by Janet Newsham and Hilda Palmer – it includes numerous links to course materials, presentations and resources.
The Hazards Conference opened with a great session on the Friday evening, when more than 320 delegates from all over the UK, from different industrial sectors, different workplaces and different trade unions registered and attended the first plenary at this year’s Hazards Conference.
Each delegate received a bag full of important and relevant information and the bag proudly proclaimed ‘You gotta fight for the right to safety!’ Included in the bag were the Hazards Campaign leaflets on supporting solidarity action with ‘Fast food workers’ and ‘Care workers’. Also a newly developed leaflet on SRSC Regs – a sort of mini brown book with information about key dates, links and contacts which reps can hang around their necks on lanyards and further copies can be ordered from GMHC – email@example.com or 0161 636 7558.
The Hazards Campaign is developing a charter and the first draft of the charter was shared with delegates for further comment.
Finally along with important information from campaign groups, trade unions, there was also the latest copy of Hazards Magazine.
This is one of the most important publications for health and safety reps to keep up with the latest developments, news and topics.
Finally, all delegates received a Hazards 2018 commemorative badge.
The Falling Tears stained glass window
The Friday plenary was chaired by Doug Russell USDAW National Health and Safety Officer; we were moved to tears by Louise Taggart whose brother sadly died as a result of being electrocuted at work. Louise is a founder member of Families Against Corporate Killing (FACK), an organisation set up in 2006 to fight for justice for all families and for safer workplaces for everyone. Louise’s brother Michael Adamson was killed at work in 2005 aged 26 years. She said she wanted to make his life count and to stop anyone else suffering the way her family had. Louise used the Hazards Campaign: The Whole Story and gave many examples of the deaths of people who are invisible in the HSE figures, because the HSE do not include them as workplace deaths in the records that they count. These include people who are killed in road traffic incidents, in air crashes, those killed at sea, those who die as a result of suicide which is workplace related. And the thousands who die as a result of illnesses because of their work or workplace. This was such a moving and powerful contribution and there were not many dry eyes in the hall at the end of her contribution.
Our international speaker was Asli Odman from Istanbul Workers’ Health and Work Safety Assembly. Because of the volatile political situation in Turkey, we were uncertain Asli would be able to leave Turkey to come to the UK to speak, so her contribution was even more valued and welcome. Asli spoke about the large numbers of workers dying at work and the work they are doing in Turkey to record deaths and investigate patterns and causes. She explained that there is a problem getting information from the Government and their organisation has to scan local and national press to find out about the work related deaths. They also actively support workers seeking justice. Everyday there are at least 20/30 deaths due to work related reasons which Asli described as being like a war in workplaces. They call their work related deaths ‘work related murders’! Last year 2006 people were murdered and this included 453 in the construction industry. She also explained that women are largely invisible in the figures because their work is often not registered as being done in a workplace and therefore injuries are not recorded. Asli said that one of the reasons for poor health and safety in the workplace is because of a decreasing number of trade union members. Membership of unions has dropped from 24% to 4% in the last 30 years. Annually they produce a book detailing the deaths of workers. Finally every month they hold a vigil to all those workers who have been killed. Asli explained that she has been inspired by Hazards Magazine, International Workers Memorial Day and Families Against Corporate Killing.
Steve Tombs our final speaker on Friday evening spoke passionately about why Grenfell Tower tragedy is social murder. He said that Grenfell is a symbol of the consequences of deregulation, austerity, cuts and capitalism’s contempt. Steve spoke about the convictions which have already taken place because of Grenfell. There have been 7 and are nothing to do with the fire. He spoke about the gap between rich and poor. The people still waiting to be rehoused despite promises, the physical, emotional, psychological, cultural and financial harm being done to those affected by the fire. He spoke about the long term systematic attack on regulation which Governments must have known would consequentially result in death. It was foreseeable and that therefore this is social murder.
Delegates at the Hazards 2018 conference stood united in solidarity with all the victims of the Grenfell Tower tragedy fighting for justice and also with the Fire Brigades Union members being scrutinised unfairly in the public inquiry. We demand that those who are responsible for the deaths, injuries and continued trauma of families, friends, neighbours and firefighters are held accountable. Those responsible for the deregulation of fire safety, the lack of enforcement of building regulations, those who treated residents of Grenfell Tower with total disregard for their safety and welfare and those whose inhumanity created the foreseen tragedy of the fire. We demand justice for Grenfell!
A day packed with workshops, meetings and campaign meetings with the evening free for network and discussion. The day began early with two workshops followed by a main meeting and then a campaign meeting.
Saturday – Workshops
(a) Reps Functions and employers duties, Julie Weekes (b) Reps Functions and employers duties, Michelle Marshall
Meeting 1: From menstruation to menopause! Why do we need a gender sensitive approach to occupational safety and health.
Chair: Tracey Harding – Meeting 1 – Links
Speakers: Lynsey Mann and Andrea Oates – more
Meeting 2: How do we challenge the consequences of privatisation, commercialisation and marketisation of the deregulation agenda and the selective enforcement of health and safety laws? Chair: Hilda Palmer – Meeting 2 Report
Speakers: Neil Hope-Collins and Steve Tombs
Meeting 3: Why is transparency in the supply chain necessary in advancing the health, safety and welfare of workers both nationally and internationally?
Chair: Sara Marsden
Speakers: Kathy Jenkins – Meeting 3 report, Stirling Smith – more and Asli Odman
Meeting 4: Is mental ill health a consequence of the intensification of working practices and bad management in our workplaces and what should we do about it?
Chair: Ian Tasker
Speakers: Dan Shears – more, Joan McNulty – more and Adam Lincoln – more
Meeting 1: From Menstruation To Menopause with the GMB
Saturday – Campaign Meetings
Campaign meeting 1: Climate Change and Air Pollution
Speakers: Adam Lincoln and Graham Petersen
Campaign meeting 2: Why should Trade Unions use health and safety as an organising tool? Chair: Janet Newsham – meeting report
Speakers: Neil Hope-Collins, Ian Hodson – YouTube and Ali Waqaar
Campaign meeting 3: International solidarity to combat attacks on workers: lives and health Speakers: Kathy Jenkins – meeting report, Sara Marsden and Asli Odman
Sunday was a ‘barn storming’ morning with inspirational, interesting and dynamic speakers.
Although on the face of it, 5 is a lot of speakers – they were all great to listen to, they held our attention and the two hours passed as though it had been just minutes. Each speaker received a standing ovation and the audience was mesmerised and listened intently to each individual contribution, laughing where appropriate, indignant where there was cause and overall inspired by the lessons, leaving ready to challenge and improve the health and safety in their workplaces and provide solidarity to those in other unions and other workplaces.
Sunday began with a presentation by Hilda Palmer to Ian Draper of the Hazards Campaign Silver badge in recognition of his work in the UK Stress Network and his work on behalf of the Hazards Campaign in the European Work Hazards Network. Ian then drew the raffle for the Leigh Day IPad.
Janet Newsham introduced the session by saying that the conference was more than any other trade union conference and that she hoped everyone felt that they belonged to the health and safety family of the Hazards Campaign. A family with a common aim of keeping our friends and colleagues safe at work and with a network that extends beyond borders to sister organisations in places like Turkey, beyond sectors, industries, companies and organisations and brings everyone together to keep us all safe at work. Janet referred to the speech Hilda Palmer had made previously when she said health and safety was all about love and that no one should suffer the heartache that Louise Taggart had so movingly spoken about at the Friday plenary session. No one should suffer never seeing their loved ones again because of the negligence and total disregard of workers safety. And also the safety of our friends and families as they sleep in their homes, eat out or enjoy their short period of leisure.
Kevin Rowan said that no one else does the role of health and safety reps. He said that if every rep carried out just one inspection a year that would be 100,000 inspections. The HSE carry out just 20,000 inspections. And of those they find 10,000 serious breaches! In a recent roadside inspection of lorries, 90% of the lorries inspected were not loaded correctly. Kevin said that Trade Unions have a legitimate voice and we need to champion our successes more.
Audrey White showed a clip from a film that was made about her with Glenda Jackson playing her part. It was about the sexual harassment of 4 women shop assistants when she was a manager at Lady at Lord John in Liverpool and her subsequent dismissal for challenging him. Audrey’s story is inspiring; she went on strike supported by local T&G trade union members from the docks and road transport. She picketed the store and eventually after escalating the action won her case. Audrey spoke about why sexual harassment is a health and safety issue and the continuing need to challenge it.
Ali Waqaar, a McDonalds McStriker spoke about the health and safety challenges for young workers and in particular the dire conditions that many fast food workers are facing in ‘warzone’ like conditions from overwhelming queues of people, violence, drunkenness, and the consequential burns, injuries and stress caused to the workers. He accused McDonalds of victimisation and the need for workers to join trade unions and challenge these unacceptable conditions. Ali described himself as a ‘warrior poet’ – he said working in McDonalds was like the current in the ocean – always moving, always asked to do something, lift something, orders flooding through.
Dave Smith spoke about the importance of collective action. Dave writes a regular column, Organising 101, in Hazards Magazine which illustrates collective and creative action that could be taken to challenge unsafe and unhealthy working practices. He spoke about some of the challenges he had faced in the construction industry where in the 70’s one construction worker died every day and now 38 deaths a year from incidents and we can celebrate our role in that decline in deaths. He emphasised the need to continue to hold these companies to account. He said it was never about one person but always about the collective and that we are on the side of the angels.
Ian Hodson gave a brilliant speech to end the conference. He spoke about the importance of not blaming migrant workers for deteriorating pay and conditions at work. He thanked the Hazards Campaign for keeping health and safety at the top of trade unions agendas when health and safety was being attacked, deregulated and undermined. Ian recognised the important role of health and safety reps and trade union activists and said that we will make a difference in our workplaces if we stand together and work collectively.
The conference closed at 12.00pm. There has been some great feedback: one or two issues to improve on for next year and some great suggestions to consider, but overall summed up by one new delegate as ‘First Hazards experience did not disappoint + would definitely return again. A must for safety reps!’
A final thanks to all the staff at Keele for their support, patience and response to our many requests and challenges. A big thanks to all the GMHC staff for organising, administrating and delivering the conference. Thanks to all the volunteers who run the registration desk, help, support people with access needs and generally run to respond to delegates needs. Thanks to the workshop, meeting and campaign meeting speakers and tutors and for the plenary speakers who have inspired and challenged us all. Thanks to our photographers, and video recorders: Jawad, Nick and Cath. A special thanks to all the Trade Unions – nationally, regionally, at branch and workplace, Trade Union Councils, Hazards Centres, Solicitors and other campaigning organisations and individuals for supporting and sponsoring the conference. Finally, thanks to the hundreds of delegates for attending, contributing, networking and sharing their knowledge, challenges and successes with other delegates.
YouTube and PowerPoint resources from the Sunday Plenary
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