Category Archives: Hazards conference

Hazards 2015 report

We are grateful for the generous support for Hazards 2015 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 2016.

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 ‘Safety Reps: Reclaiming the Health and Safety agenda’.

Five years of coalition government attacks on workers’ health and safety plus neoliberal austerity attacks on the working class are continuing under the Tory government.

The terrible toll on workers’ health and lives of deregulation and cuts to enforcement of health and safety continues with the exemption of 1.7 million self-employed people, the on-going negotiation of deregulatory EU-USA TTIP agreement, and the (anti)

Trade Union Bill that directly threatens safety reps. We won’t survive another five years unless we fight back. John McClean, retiring GMB Director of Health Safety and Environment opened the Friday plenary by saying that he had never known it so bad. Peggy Trompf from Australia told us how Royal Commissions have been used to attack construction trade unions. Joanne Hill spoke very bravely about her beloved son Cameron, a 16 year old apprentice, who was killed at a death-trap engineering firm where guards on lathes were deliberately disabled.

Louise Taggart from FACK and Scottish Hazards closed the session summarising activity and families we have supported over the year. Joanne and Louise received standing ovations and, remind us why health and safety is vital. Andy Watterson, University of Stirling, opened the Saturday plenary with presentation on ‘Occupational health provision in the UK – problems and solutions’ showing how the HSE has largely abandoned preventative and enforcement activity. Helen Lynn, Alliance for Cancer Prevention spoke about the need for more prevention of work and environmental causes of breast cancer.

John Byrne, organiser for UNITE Hotel Workers gave a passionate talk about organizing with hotel workers for better health safety, pay and conditions, complete with illustrations.

Keynote meetings looked at organising around health and safety to resist the race to the bottom; the government’s new Fit for Work Scheme which is more about forcing the sick back to work than making sick workers better; how we can use the SRSC Regulations to recapture the health and safety agenda plus Sean Marshall, from Australia, on using a new collective ‘cease work’ provision in New South Wales law, to tackle occupational health issues like fatigue and stress.

Workshops focused on improving safety rep performance, skills and confidence in support from SRSC Regulations in taking up issues with employers, investigating and inspecting. We ran workshops on specific topics such as resisting resilience, fire risk assessment, the hierarchy of control, finding out what harms members, hazardous substances, excessive workloads, older workers, bullying, harassment, and sickness absence.

Please consider our appeal positively. Cheques should be payable to Hazards 2016, and sent to: Hazards 2016, GMHC, Windrush Millennium Centre, 70 Alexandra Road, Manchester, M16 7WD. Telephone: 0161 636 7557, email:

Thank you in advance for your support.

Hazards conference 2013

24th National Hazards Conference
19-21st July 2013, University of Keele

Conference presentation notes:

YouTube clips

Friday plenary
Louise Taggart FACK 
Omana George ANROEV and AMRC OSH rights in Asia

Saturday plenary
Phil Taylor STUC paper • Conference presentation (Abridged) • Download the full prensentation
Scott Donohoe, Unison Strategy and campaigns: Workplace stress

Keynote meetings
Hugh Robertson, TUC Who’s on our side?
Robert Baughan, Unison Sickness absence
Kathy Jenkins, Scottish Hazards Campaign, Defend sick pay
Dr. Aida Ponce Del Castillo, ETUI Whither or wither Europe 
John McClean, GMB Whither or wither Europe

Workshops and Sunday Meetings
Hilda Palmer, Hazards campaign Health and safety: In a sorry state of health?
Irwin Mitchell Access to justice, changes to Legal Aid and civil liability
Susan Murray, Unite Body Mapping
Helen Lynn, Alliance for cancer prevention, Developing the campaign to reduce Occupational and Environmental Cancer
John Crust, UCU, Fire risk assessment • Fire workshop handout
Ian Cole, Unison, Using social media
Julie Winn, GMB, Asbestos in schools,
Ian Draper, Work Stress Network, Excessive workload


YouTube clips of conference presentations

Louise Taggart for FACK

Omana George AMRC and ANROEV

Dave Smith Blacklist Support Group

Helen Lynn’s ‘Alan’ award acceptance speech • Further details

Professor Rory O’Neill, Editor of Hazards magazine

Scott Donohoe, Unison Glasgow, Scottish Hazards

Professor Phil Taylor, University of Strathclyde


Final programme 2013

2013 Booking form • 2013 sponsorship form

Hazards Conference  is the UK’s biggest educational and organising event for trade union safety reps and activists.  A mixture of plenary sessions, debates, meetings, and a comprehensive workshop programme, give opportunities to learn, exchange experience and information with delegates from a wide range of sectors and jobs.
The effects of the government’s attack on health & safety are now being felt in workplaces. Cameron continued rubbishing health and safety in January 2013 telling entrepreneurs of the need to cut health and safety rules that stop young people getting work experience. Just days later, a 16 year old apprentice was killed in an incident with a lathe at an engineering company, only weeks after starting work. Enforcement is in retreat and hiding. It’s almost impossible to contact the HSE, and proactive, preventive inspections by L.A.’s and HSE have been banned in falsely classed ‘low hazard/risk’ sectors which cover the majority of workplaces. New evidence shows proactive inspections not only save lives but save employers money too.  But government continues the ideological destruction of the regulatory enforcement environment that workers won by collective action over generations, using the lie that it is a ‘burden on business’.

Some regulations already revoked, others under threat,  and the review of Approved Codes of Practice threatens to downgrade them to mere guidance.  RIDDOR changes have already removed 30,000 reports of work-related injury and illness, and other proposals would make almost all work-related illness vanish, by removing the employers’ duty to report them. Government acceptance of Dame Carol Black’s sickness absence recommendations continues the punitive approach and includes state funded assessment for employees who are off sick for more than 4 week, increasing insecurity and stress for sick workers. Attacks on union reps facility time, on access to justice via tribunals & legal aid, and proposals to remove civil liability for health and safety breaches, further reduce the right to compensation for work-related injury and illness.

Workers have not been consulted on how work injuries, death and sickness can be reduced, nor has any assessment been conducted of the full human and economic costs of cutting laws and enforcement intended to prevent this work-related harm.  The real burden is on us, not on employers.  As the benefits system declares the sick, disabled and terminally ill ‘fit for work’, forcing them to seek jobs that don’t exist, as pension age rises, and as work becomes more dangerous and unhealthy, paradoxically the need for union safety reps and good H&S at work increases.  Come and learn more, discuss how we can defend safe workplaces, and build a campaign to stop them killing, maiming and making us sick to death.