Category Archives: media

The whole story: Work-related injuries, illness and deaths

The Hazards Campaign says the UK’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) underestimates massively the true figures of workplace deaths and injuries focusing instead on only a part of the story.  Millions of workers are made ill and over 50,000 are killed by work yearly, rates significantly higher than HSE estimates.  In the briefing document The whole story: Work-related injuries, illness and deaths  the Hazards Campaign explains these shocking figures.

Statement on Louise Taggart winning SHP most influential H&S person of 2018

Louise Taggart’s love for her brother who was killed at work has won her ‘Most Inspirational Health and Safety Person in 2018’ 

“Health and safety is all about love.”

Yesterday Louise Taggart was announced at SHP Expo as the most inspirational health and safety person of year  in their poll, winning by a large margin. Louise is trustee at Scottish Hazards, a member of the Hazards Campaign and became a founder member of Families Against Corporate Killers, FACK, after her brother Michael was killed at work on 4th August 2005.

“The Hazards Campaign and Families Against Corporate killers congratulate Louise on a well-deserved award as she is making a huge difference, influencing employers and managers, and inspiring workers to make work safer.

“In the Hazards Campaign and Families Against Corporate Killers, we know that health and safety is all about love and the terrible grief that come from having a loved one killed at work in a preventable incident. Health and safety is about the love we have for our families, for our friends and workmates, and for our own lives. It’s about how we only want the best for each other, and for those we kiss goodbye to come home safe and well, uninjured, and with their physical and mental health unimpaired at the end of their shift every day. No one should die or be injured or made ill simply for going to work to earn a living. But every day in Britain around 140 people do die because of work. The equivalent to two Grenfell Towers every day are killed in incidents or due to illnesses caused by work. And almost every single death could have been, and should have been, prevented.  Louise is key player in the fight to stop preventable death at work and spoke about The Whole Story,  the real numbers killed by work, at the SHExpo  after hearing she had won.

“Louise Taggart exemplifies that love for others in telling her brother Michael’s story  to thousands of people at work, to make it clear how and why Michael died, the enormous impact on her and her parents, and what must be done by employers to make sure workers are not at risk of death or injury.  Louise speaks from the heart, through the fire of grief, loss and anger tempered by extensive knowledge of the law and of the safety procedures which, if followed would have saved Michael’s life.  She starkly reminds employers and managers and health and safety professionals of their legal and moral duties, the tragedy their negligence can lead to, and inspires workers to be clear about their rights and to challenge poor health and safety. Some have gone on to be safety representatives after hearing her eloquent speeches.

Louise Taggart is one of the most moving speakers on the need for better health and safety, that it is never ‘pointless red tape’ or a ‘burden on business’  to follow the law, that it must be strictly enforced as it is there for a reason: to stop anyone being killed by at work by their negligent employers

Founder members of Families Against Corporate Killers, FACK: “Congratulate Louise and thank her for speaking up for all of us, telling our stories too. Louise’s brother Michael was killed at work on 4th August 2005 and she joined us bereaved by work families to set up FACK in July 2006.  We wanted to provide help, to support, advocate for and represent families of others killed at work, as we had found little help ourselves.   Louise has been a lifeline for many families in Scotland especially comments.  She is a ferociously intelligent and eloquent advocate, bringing her knowledge and understanding of the law and her own personal experiences together in a unique, forceful and deeply moving way and most of us still cry when we hear her speak. She speaks for us all and tells our stories with love and anger, especially on International Workers Memorial 28 April  every year, when we remember all those killed at work and fight for the living .  “Like all of us Louise did not chose to below to this FACK club, but after her brother was electrocuted she turned her grief and anger into action on behalf of others, to stop others dying needlessly and we love her for it.

More information Hilda Palmer 0161 636 7557 07929800240 

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 in Oldham, January 1998

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

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

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

Linda Whelanson Craig Whelan 23, (and Paul Wakefield) killed at work in Bolton on 23rd May 2002

Dorothy & Douglas Wright – son Mark Wright 37, killed at work in Deeside on 13th April 2005

Dame Judith Hackitt’s building report is not enough to halt the race to the bottom

17.5.18 Immediate use Hazards Campaign Statement on Hackitt Report

Building a Safer Future- Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety – Dame Judith Hackitt’s report is not enough to halt the race to the bottom in terms of health and safety.

We needed a report that would state clearly ‘enough is enough’ in terms of the deregulation that led to Grenfell, an end to deadly business-led attacks on safety laws and cuts to enforcement. We also needed a report that would honour those killed and ensure such a fire could never happen again so that everyone, including the most vulnerable and poorest are also protected especially in their own homes.

Hackitt calls for ‘simpler and more effective’ new regulatory framework. What can be simpler or clearer than ‘No Hazard: No risk’? Banning all combustible building materials must be part of any new regulatory system if it is to be effective and safe

We agree with Judith Hackitt that the system of Building Regulations is broken. But this is just a symptom of the whole broken system of hard won regulations and enforcement of all aspects of health, safety and welfare set up to protect us at work, in the environment, using products, services, and at home, in our beds, as at Grenfell.

This system no longer works, as it has been systematically destroyed by waves of ‘deregulation’, ‘better regulation’ presided over by governments over past 40 years but especially turbo charged since 2010, and that led to the ‘Race to The Bottom’ which Judith Hackitt describes in her report, and of which as Chair of the HSE she was part of driving.

Deregulation was driven by a change in culture that included David Cameron as Prime Minister vowing to ‘kill off health and safety culture’, deriding it as an ‘albatross’ or ‘millstone round the necks of business’ and talking of a ‘bonfire of red tape’, using the lie that good health and safety is a ‘burden on business’ to slash laws but more importantly to draw the teeth of health and safety watchdogs by massive cuts in funding and changing the nature of enforcement by commercialisation, privatisation, outsourcing and making business financial interests come before lives and health. The inferno at Grenfell Tower was the real life ‘ bonfire of red tape/regulations’ Cameron and Tory/Lib Dems demanded but it has not been the ‘enough is enough’ moment for deregulation that it should have been.

There are some good points in Hackitt’s report but she fails to correctly identify or analyse the effects of ‘Deregulation’ on building and other safety, and how the deadly culture that led to Grenfell was enabled and driven by the state and enforcing authorities and it is not at all clear that her recommendations can drive a change of culture in the industry of putting safety first. As the Chair of HSE, Hackitt presided over the slashing on inspection, changing the nature of enforcement, and helping to develop the very culture that led to Grenfell. Since she left HSE she works with the Engineering Employers Federation which represents key actors in this industry.

Judith Hackitt makes clear the need for simplification and clarity in building regulation, but then she fails to take the most obvious step which would provide absolute clarity, and some restoration of trust in the protective system of regulation for high rise buildings, in refusing to ban combustible building materials.

She calls for more regulation and enforcement and stronger penalties to hold duty holders accountable through a structure called the Joint Competent Authority. The devil will be in the detail, and we will examine the whole report carefully, but it is not clear how this Tory government with its fetish for deregulation and putting business interests first and foremost before our lives and health would fund, resource or provide the required political will, for a strong regulatory system with sufficient powers to hold the whole construction industry and individual duty holders to account.

For more information

  •  Hilda Palmer 0161 636 7557 mobile 07929 800 240

Notes

 

Hazards Campaign: 28 April International Workers Memorial Day briefing

28 April International Workers Memorial Day #IWMD18

Remember the Dead Fight for the Living – Fighting for our lives in Unions

A large body of evidence shows that Unionised Workplaces are Safer Workplaces .

Through workers organising together in unions they can fight for safer, healthier and decent work for all.  Collective action and elected safety reps create the proven ‘Union Safety Effect’  making workplaces twice as safe.1   In 2018 we are celebrating 40 years of the Safety Representatives and Safety Committee Regulations, SRSCR, which give elected union safety reps the powers and functions to hold employers to account, challenge them and work with them to make work safe and healthier.

Under the SRSCR, Safety Reps have the right to as much paid time to do their job as  necessary  – not facility time. Their role includes carrying out inspections and surveys; talking to members, mapping the workplace;  investigating incidents;  making  reports, and representations to management; being consulted in good time about anything that affects health and safety-chemicals, stress, jobs design, work   changes, pay, shifts, staffing  levels -to be involved in risk assessments, represent members and act collectively to make the workplaces better for all workers.   It works:

Safety reps save lives, save health and save money. Unions make workplaces twice as safe as non organised workplaces 

Hazards Campaigner Tommy Harte brought International Workers’ Memorial Day (IWMD) to the UK in the 1990s from  Canada and USA,  with two aims: to “Remember the Dead” and to  “Fight for the Living. The Hazards Campaign promotes and resources IWMD  which is now commemorated in hundreds of events across the UK from Aberdeen to Penzance.  We focus on both aims by holding events or memorials to remember all those killed through work and at the same time to campaign against the causes of these preventable tragedies to stop workers being killed in future.  International Workers Memorial Day, IWMD, is now commemorated throughout the world, in thousands of events involving millions of people and is recognised by dozens of countries including the UK Government in 2009.  The #IWMD18  theme agreed by ITUC  and Trade Unions internationally is:

Unionised Workplaces are Safer Workplaces No-one should ever die just for going to work . Millions do every year, not in freak accidents or of rare illnesses, but because employers did not comply with the law, and governments let them get away with it Almost ALL workplace death, injury and illness is PREVENTABLE

In GB, Health and Safety Executive, HSE, annual figures of 137 deaths at work in 2016/17 only covers those reported to HSE and Local Authorities. It excludes members of the public killed in work incidents, workers killed on roads, at sea, in air and by work-suicide. The figure also excludes those dying because of bad work conditions from cancers, heart, lung and other diseases. Using expert research, the Hazards Campaign estimates a more realistic figure for those killed in work-related incidents is 1,477 and those dying of work illnesses as 50,000 per year.

That is around 140 people dying from work per day or one person every 10 minutes in GB.

The UN ILO estimates 2.78 million people worldwide dying from work every year up from 2.3 million in 2014.  One person killed by work every 11 seconds worldwide.

 Safety Reps saving lives at work for 40 years!   This year we celebrate the birth of the TUC, established at the   Mechanics Institute at a meeting called by Salford and Manchester Trades Union Councils 150 years ago, as well as the 40th anniversary of the Safety Representatives and Safety C/te Regulations, one of the most important laws for workers’ lives and health but one that has been almost totally unenforced.

Workers began organising in Trade Unions 150—200 years ago, to improve health and safety in their own workplaces and through political action to win wider legal changes and protections. By educating agitating and organising and acting collectively, unions gained a shorter working day, more time off work, reduction in exposure to chemicals, dangerous machinery, an end to child labour and exploitation, and won stronger social protection laws and stricter enforcement, as well as fighting for higher wages.

It’s not about asking for improvements but having the collective voice and industrial  power to demand them.

Union action also led to the Health and Safety at Work Act in 1974 and the Safety Representatives and Safety C/te Regulations in 1977 which enabled unions and safety reps to be even more effective in cutting the death rate in work incidents and making a major impact on work-related illnesses.   Everyone should come home safe and well after their shift. But we still have too many workplaces that kill, injure and make workers very sick, often to death .  Injuries and death at work may have fallen but problems including work cancers, insecurity and the despair of work stress related to low pay,   insecurity, overwork and a lack of respect are rocketing  and  “only informed collective action will really make  work better”

 The TUC has collected Safety Rep success stories 6  which add to the massive body of evidence shows that union organisation and safety reps do make work safer, save lives, save health,  and save money for employers and the economy—up to £700 million per year   proving that good health and safety is not a burden on  business, or a job killer but a positive contribution to our human rights. Poor health and safety costs, on Hazards estimates, between £30 and 60 billion per year.

 Sharan Burrow ITUC: “Health is a human right and does not stop at the factory gates. Our strategy will use all the trade union instruments – namely, representation, negotiation and action – for the organization for decent, safe and healthy work”

Despite all of this evidence, since 2010 government has attacked health and safety law and enforcement as ‘red tape’, employers ride rough shod over laws and fail to comply,  and the Trade Union Act makes  it harder for unions to protect and defend workers health. A big cut in funding enforcement led to far fewer preventative inspections and enforcement actions on non-compliant, criminal employers, so  increasingly  it is down to Safety Reps!

Hugh Robertson, TUC says ” It is clear that we need trade unions more than ever before. The case has been proven that safety reps are good for workers, good for the economy and good for business….The only people who fear us are employers who want to cut corners and take risks with our lives.  Good employers are already working with unions, we need the rest to start recognising the benefits and we need the government to stop attacking unions and instead do more to ensure that employers are consulting with union so that everyone can get the benefits unions bring”  

Use #IWMD to fight for our lives and join together in unions to make work safer !

Hazards Campaign c/o GMHC. Windrush Millennium Centre, 70 Alexandre Road, Manchester, M16 7WD                                                        info@hazardscampaign.org.uk      @hazardscampaign

UNION Workplaces are Safer & Healthier #IWMD18 Wear a purple forget-me-knot ribbon Put a sticker in your car TAKE ACTION on 28 April #IWMD18

In GB there are around 1,500 deaths from incidents and 50,000 from work illnesses, over 621,000 injuries and millions made ill by work every year. Almost all work deaths, injuries and illness are due to employers’ mismanagement. Inequality and discrimination at work mean that the most vulnerable workers—the poorest, women, young, ethnic minority, migrant, LBGT and non unionised workers— are at more risk of being made ill, injured or killed by work.

What you can do on #iwmd18 Big Up Unions! Use the Resources to shout loud and proud that UNIONS MAKE WORK SAFER and take action to strengthen your union organisation or create a union at work.

  • Find out what is happening in your area on 28 April, see TUC list of events email details or your event to healthandsafety@tuc.org.uk & own union
  • If nothing is happening then get together with workmates and organise – a commemorative rally, a minutes silence; a workplace inspection, a meeting to discuss health and safety and celebrate the positive impact of unions and Safety Reps @40 , use the Safety Rep Box to discuss what you can do
  • Ask your local council, or any other public body, to fly official flags at half-mast on the day. Remember that the day is officially recognised by the UK government;
  • Arrange an event such as planting a memorial tree in a public place, putting up a plaque, dedicating a sculpture, a piece of art, or a bench, to remember workers who have been killed at the workplace or in the community;
  • Workers’ Memorial Day is on 28 April, consider how you can best use local media both before & on the day.
  • If you are planning any event for the day, or you want to raise awareness: distribute and wear purple ‘forget-me-not’ ribbons, put up posters, and remember to let people know about anything that happens in your area on the day. Order resources: http://www.hazardscampaign.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/iwmd18resources.pdf
  • Send ecard to Prime Minister demanding end to attacks on laws that protect our lives & health because as Grenfell fire & all work deaths show: ‘Red Tape is better than bloody bandages’:
  • Tweet about your workplace union health and safety successes use internationally unifying hashtag #IWMD18 and check it for new resources and retweet.

#IWMD18 Resources  and Information   

Purple Ribbons the symbol of the day; Union Workplaces are Safer Workplaces Car Stickers, High Vis jackets & FREE posters

Hazards Magazine Articles on Safety Reps@40:   ‘It’s down to you’   ‘What’s your best face’  Safety Reps Rights  Box

TUC  Safety Reps@40  

https://www.ituc-csi.org/IMG/pdf/28_april_2018_en.pdf

Sharan Burrows ITUC: Unions are organising for safer, healthier, decent work  @SharanBurrow. @ITUC

TUC list of events

GMHC IWMD Background Leaflet:

The Whole Story: Our estimates of the real toll of deaths and illnesses caused by work which are far greater than HSE publishes or press/media report

FILMS

Louise Taggart’s blog about her brother Michael who went to work & was killed by employer’s negligence-

Carol Harte’s film of  Tommy Harte  bringing  IWMD to the UK

GMHC International Workers’ Memorial Day

UNITE The Safety of the Vulnerable Worker

UNISON Problems in the Care Sector

Thompson’s Solicitors: Industrial injury, compensation, the Government and the Law

ASLEF Rail Safety

BFAWU Fighting for justice

#IWMD2014: Deregulatory Daleks tied up in red tape!   Hazards Magazine:

Families Against Corporate Killers, FACK    work with families of those killed by work: BellyflopTV

See also Facebook: Families Against Corporate Killers

FACKers tell their stories:  ‘Face the FACKs: the Human Face of Corporate Killing’

Face the FACKs  Part 1       Face the FACKs Part  2

Face the FACKs Part  3      Face the FACKs Part 4

TV coverage Cameron Minshull        Cameron  Killed

Hazards Campaign c/o GMHC, Windrush Millennium Centre, 70 Alexandre Road, Manchester, M16 7WD                                                         info@hazardscampaign.org.uk @hazardscampaign
Face Book: We Didn’t Vote to Die at Work

UK: FACK Statement – International Workers’ Memorial Day 28 April 2018 #IWMD18

FACK Statement – International Workers’ Memorial Day 28 April 2018 #IWMD18

“I don’t know where to begin.  So I’ll start by saying I refuse to forget you.  I refuse to be silenced.  I refuse to neglect you.”

These words are “for every last soul” who perished at Grenfell, and are spoken by Stormzy at the start of the Artists for Grenfell single.  They could just as easily have been spoken by FACK families.

We will never forget our lost loved ones and ask that you don’t either.  Instead, in their memories, devote your energies to fighting for the living.

We continue to refuse to be silenced.  Instead we use our voices to increase a chorus of disapproval aimed at seeking an end to this era of de-regulation, in which health and safety protections have been undermined and preventative enforcement has been slashed. 1

We want the chorus of disapproval to reach a crescendo.

Because each and every day here in the UK a lack of good health and safety continues to lead to the deaths of 140 people in work-related incidents or because of work-related illness.  The equivalent of 2 Grenfell towers…daily.  2

Let that sink in for a moment.

Opening and closing with the vision of the charred tower block, the music video which accompanies the Grenfell single can’t fail to touch hearts.

And all too often, it is music which evokes memories to tear at a FACK family’s heart, just as a line from the Verve’s “The Drugs Don’t Work” does for Samuel Adams’ mum: “But I know I will see your face again”.  Sam was 6-yrs-old when he went for a family day out to the Trafford Shopping Centre and his face was only to continue to be seen in photos and preciously held memories.

Frankie Miller singing “Let me tell you that I love you, that I think about you all time” transports 26-yr-old Michael Adamson’s family and friends back to the devastation of the walk from the crematorium.

Welsh hymn Gwahoddiad is the one guaranteed to reduce Andrew Hutin’s parents to tears, the one that raised the roof of the chapel at the funeral of a young man who had only recently turned 20 when a tidal wave of molten metal exploded from a blast furnace.

How do you begin to choose the songs for your 18 year old son’s funeral?  FACK families’ intention is that you never have to.  But Mick and Bet Murphy did, guided by those that were among Lewis’ favourites at the time of his death.  A song called “Crossroads” taking on particular poignancy, containing lyrics such as: “Hey, can somebody anybody tell me why we die, we die? I don’t wanna die. Ohhh so wrong.”

Fundamentally wrong that these young men were taken from their families, denied the opportunity to live their lives.  And why?  Because still far too often health and safety is wrongly seen as a burden, red tape, a tiresome impediment to getting a job done, or a costly barrier to making a profit.

There are those whose praises FACK families sing.  Among them:

  • The firefighters whose emotions overwhelmed them on being clapped and cheered by the local community at Grenfell – that community knowing they had done all they could, and more, to save lives.
  • Those who have had the courage to speak out about perils faced by themselves and their colleagues, finding themselves blacklisted as a result.
  • Those who work in our Hazards Centres – in Manchester, London and Glasgow – seeking to prevent work-related harm, committed to improving workplace health and safety.
  • And trade unions safety reps whose life-saving work often goes unnoticed, but whose work needs to be celebrated and built upon. Because, let’s be clear: a union workplace is a safer workplace.

These are the people who prevent injury, illness and death; who prevent suffering and the consequent need for a soundtrack to tears.  They are the ones with whom we must ensure chords are struck.

Because, yes, perhaps a song brings into firm focus a happy moment caught in time…running bare foot from a tent at a bike rally in Edinburgh on hearing Born Slippy by Underworld, Graham and Karen to be the only ones dancing and grinning in the rain.

But Natalie, Dionne, Sharon…they are among those who’d “love, love, love to dance with their fathers again”, who are destined to do so only in dreams.

The dreams and the plans that had been hatched by Linzi and Herbie during long nights spent listening to The Rock from The Who’s Quadrophenia, were not to become reality.

Instead, in the aftermath, songs that filled the void “at the dimming of the day” bring into dark focus the utter desolation.

Just what would Dorothy and Douglas give to hear Mark belting out again: “I gotta take a little time…In case I need it when I’m older”.  He wasn’t to get any older than the age of 37.

Another of his favourites was “I want to live forever”.

We know that no-one lives forever.  But, work should be life-changing in a positive way.  It should never ever be life-ending.

So we intend to continue to build a legacy for our loved ones, that will live on forever through improved protections that keep your family members safe and healthy

FACK facilitator Hilda Palmer has quite rightly described Grenfell as an “Enough is Enough” moment.  And the death of each of our loved ones was our own personal enough is enough moment.

Let us repeat: lack of good health and safety leads to loss of life equivalent to two Grenfell towers each and every day in this country.

Enough is surely enough!    By Louise Taggart Founder FACK member, sister of Michael Adamson.

References:

Hazards Campaign Briefing for #IWMD18

Michael’s Story: Louise Taggart’s blog about her brother Michael who went to work and was killed by employer’s negligence. Video

We Love Red Tape

The Whole Story about work-related death :

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

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 in 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 2002

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

For more information and to support FACK, contact Hilda Palmer, Facilitator for FACK: Tel 0161 636 7557

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

FACK comment on the accidental death conclusion by jury at the inquest into the death of Cyran Justin Stewart

Families Against Corporate Killers (FACK)  news release 24 January 2018 – no embargo

Accidental Death conclusion by jury at  the inquest into the death of Cyran Justin Stewart, fatally injured at work on  24.2.14, died on 28.2.14

Cyran Stewart was fatally injured at a Walkabout pub in Swansea on 24th February 2014. He was crushed in a lift while transporting furniture, was rescued after 30 minutes but died of his injuries four days later in hospital.  The inquest heard evidence that other members of staff had been trapped but not injured in the lift in similar ways when transporting furniture and the safety gate mechanism over ridden before Cyran was killed, but these were not reported to the health and safety consultants or head office.  Intertain CEO gave evidence that he was shocked and they knew nothing of these incidents or lift problems when moving furniture.

The jury delivered a conclusion of accidental death.

Cyran Stewart’s mother Elizabeth Galbraith said in her statement after the Inquest Conclusion:

“I feel totally disillusioned by the Inquest System. It took 4 years to get this far and I had to sit in that Inquest and hear witness after witness have the statements they made 4 years ago discredited because they could not now remember facts without referring to their statement.

“My son Cyran did not die in a freak accident that could not be foreseen or prevented, but in an incident similar to several others that had previously occurred and about which I believe management and supervisors were aware. We heard evidence that the Walkabout management team failed to report numerous incidents involving staff being stuck in the lift to Perry Scott Nash, their Health and Safety consultants.  I believe they knew what was going on but did not report it or take any action.  Had they done so, I believe that action could have been taken to prevent my son from being in that situation in the first place and prevented his death.

“Following the death of my son, that action has now been taken.  It will prevent further deaths but it will never bring Cyran back.

“Those responsible for Cyran’s health and safety while he was at work, but who failed to protect him can now go home and carry on with their lives.   I cannot, my life has been totally destroyed and the closeness of my family has been pulled apart.

“My son died as innocent as the day he was born, I will never see him get married or have children, I have been denied that pleasure.”

Hilda Palmer FACK spokesperson said: “ No-one should ever die just for going to work which is why we have health and safety laws to protect workers which include assessing risks, developing safe systems of work, instructing, training and supervising workers to make sure they follow these safe systems properly, reporting incidents, injuries and near misses, so as to take preventative action.  Cyran was not killed in a freak, unforeseeable and unpreventable accident.  According to evidence at the inquest he died after several other ‘near miss’ incidents where workers and supervisors were also trapped in the lift and had to be rescued.  Appropriate reports of these dangerous incidents were not made, the health and safety consultants and CEO were apparently unaware, and so preventative action was not taken – until after Cyran was killed.

Yet again we hear of a case where something has gone wrong, a worker is killed and his family devastated, forever.  Workers should not die before lessons are learnt. The legal duty is clear and we call on all employers everywhere to face up to, and review, your health and safety management and take urgent action to stop your work from killing or hurting anyone.  The Inquest is only concerned with who died, when, where and how, and any other matters are for the health and safety investigation to consider.  For Cyran’s mother we hope now for a swift decision on a  prosecution of those responsible for protecting Cyran’s safety at work.”

See the full statement by Elizabeth Galbraith below

For more information contact Hilda Palmer FACK 0161 636 7557 mobile 079298 00240

Elizabeth Galbraith, mother of Cyran Stewart, mobile number on request

FACK was set up in 2006 by families of those killed at work to support other families, to get as much justice and possible and to campaign to stop workplace deaths. .

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 in Oldham, January 1998

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

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

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

Linda Whelanson Craig Whelan 23, (and Paul Wakefield) killed at work in Bolton on 23rd May 2002

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

At the end of the Inquest into the death of Cyran Justin  Stewart

PRESS STATEMENT by Elizabeth Galbraith,  Mother of Cyran Justin  Stewart

Background

Early hours on 24th Feb 2014 I received a phone call from Cyran’s very distraught brother and also from South Wales Police, informing me that Cyran was in a critical state as he had been stuck in a lift, had to be resuscitated twice and that I had to attend Morrison hospital Swansea urgently.

It was the longest journey of my life as at that time I lived in Telford Shropshire, and was breaking my heart wondering if I would be able to get there in time, wondering if I would see my baby alive again.

When I got to the hospital, I was rushed to ICU where Cyran was on a life support machine and heavily sedated fighting for his life.  His 3 older brothers Kelfyn, Gavin & Jason were also there.  Our lives had been shattered and I could not understand or believe that my baby was in this state.

For four days and night our hopes were raised and shattered once more. We had to watch his body die and on the morning of 28th February the consultant gathered us all together and the decision was taken from me.  His life support machine was switched off, and waiting for him to die tore me apart.  He died at 13.05.  I kissed his lips and I knew I could never tell him again how much I loved him, or see his wonderful eyes or see his smiling face ever again.

Tribute to Cyran

Cyran was a very intelligent young man.  He was born in Germany and loved to support Bayern Munich. In time I believe he would have spent his life in Germany as he always wanted to return at some point.

His father abandoned him at the age of 4. Cyran sought to have a father figure but that was not to be and so I was mum, dad, everything I could possibly be and used to take him on many holidays and encourage a normal lifestyle.

When the Olympic Games were on it was guaranteed that I would return home and find a track imprinted in the grass, pan lids and broom handles in the garden replicating the discus and javelin events that he had watched on TV.  It kept him fit and amused.

He had a high IQ and was considered gifted and talented at school but if he did not want to do something he would not. He loved animals and wanted to be a vet at some point but changed his mind and went to Bradford University to do a degree in Computer Science.

He spent the majority of his time in Shifnal with his mates from School playing football, especially his best pal Nick as he would stay up till all hours on the x box and play on online games communicating with others and listening to music.

He never failed to attend school provided transport was organised.  He was very good at maths and many other topics and he kept very neat books with excellent marks, which was the opposite of his bedroom.

After only completing 2 years at university he was not happy and wanted to come home and be close to his mates. I asked his brother to find him permanent work at Walkabout as I did not want him to become idle, never for one moment thinking it would result in his death.

The Inquest

I feel totally disillusioned by the Inquest System. It took 4 years to get this far and I had to sit in that Inquest and hear witness after witness have the statements they made 4 years ago discredited because they could not now remember facts without referring to their statement.

My son Cyran did not die in a freak accident that could not be foreseen or prevented, but in an incident similar to several others that had previously occurred and about which I believe management and supervisors were aware. We heard evidence that the Walkabout management team failed to report numerous incidents involving staff being stuck in the lift to Perry Scott Nash, their Health and Safety consultants.  I believe they knew what was going on but did not report it or take any action.  Had they done so, I believe that action could have been taken to prevent my son from being in that situation in the first place and prevented his death.

Following the death of my son, that action has now been taken.  It will prevent further deaths but it will never bring Cyran back.

Those responsible for Cyran’s health and safety while he was at work, but who failed to protect him can now go home and carry on with their lives.   I cannot, my life has been totally destroyed and the closeness of my family has been pulled apart.

My son died as innocent as the day he was born, I will never see him get married or have children, I have been denied that pleasure.

ePostcard campaign: Tell Theresa May “Enough is enough”

To coincide with  the national Hazards Conference 2017 (28-30 July) the Hazards Campaign has launched an ePostcard Campaign to tell the Prime Minister that “Enough is enough.”

As the nation watched in horror as fire ripped through Grenfell Tower, questions about government culpability were being asked. The Conservatives have discarded critical fire, building, product, environmental and workplace safety protections and shackled and starved regulators. A government with a criminal disregard for human life has now been left with blood on its hands.

The Hazards Campaign warned the government repeatedly that its ideological obsession with cutting red tape is a deadly mistake. After the Grenfell disaster the Hazards Campaign says: “Enough is enough. Stop undermining the laws that protect us.”

Click here to send the Prime Minister the Enough is enough epostcard 

Printed copies of the postcard will be also made available at the 28-30 July Hazards 2017 conference – alternatively you can write to the Hazards Campaign

Background  Tower block inferno must mean an end to the Tory deregulation fetish, Hazards magazine, 138 July 2017

Hazards Campaign open letter to Commander Stuart Cundy in charge of the Grenfell fire investigation

Metropolitan Police Headquarters, New Scotland Yard,  8-10 Broadway, London, SW1H 0BG.

Hazards Campaign open letter to Commander Stuart Cundy in charge of the Grenfell fire investigation

Dear Commander Cundy,

The police investigation must investigate the Prime Ministers and ministers whose behaviour, actions and wilful disregard of warnings about the deadly consequences of their deregulation fetish that lead to decisions which caused the Grenfell fire.

We are pleased to hear you confirm that the starting point for your investigation into the Grenfell Tower investigation is ‘80 deaths by manslaughter.’  It is clear now that the overall model of regulation and enforcement of fire safety in buildings lies within a wider political context of government deregulatory initiatives that have undermined criminal health and safety law over a long period, and specifically accelerated since 2010.  Therefore we seek assurance that your investigation will look not only at all those individuals, companies and organisations directly involved in Grenfell Tower, but will examine the wider and crucial role of the ministers and their advisers on the deregulation of all types of health and safety law, enforcement and scrutiny, which form the environment in which the decisions that led to the Grenfell disaster took place.  This is a disaster which was foretold, that should never have happened and would not have done if the regulation and enforcement framework had been properly functioning to protect lives rather than serve business interests first.

Your investigation must seek to establish responsibility and culpability for this terrible tragedy that has taken many lives and damaged many more.  It seems clear that Prime Ministers’ setting deregulatory agendas in their manifestos, their speeches and their government programmes, plus Ministers carrying out those programmes, plus those specifically responsible for Housing and Fire Safety must be interviewed under caution.  Ministers who promised but failed to review the Building Regulations after the Laknal fire and failed to act after repeated warnings of potential disaster from fire experts and many letters from the All Party Parliamentary Group on Fire Safety and Rescue,  about the use of materials in high rise buildings without adequate safe guards in all aspects of their use, from specification, to installation to subsequent building, fire approvals and inspections, must be investigated.

We specifically seek assurance that this would include interviewing under caution ex Prime Minster David Cameron who repeatedly and vociferously ‘waged war’ on health and safety as ‘a monster’, ‘an albatross’, a ‘burden on business’ and which he vowed in his new year’s resolution of 2012 to ‘Kill off health and safety culture for good’   David Cameron set the ‘lite-touch’ political context in which regulations were viewed and policed.  Slashing the Health and Safety Executive, HSE, budget by a massive 33% in 2011 set the tone for the neutering of official policing of safety standards by the coalition government  . He established a programme of biased health and safety reviews, ‘Red Tape’ cuts, scrapping laws and dumbing down of guidance, plus slashing the budgets,  and restricting the enforcement activities of the HSE and the Local Authorities, while establishing business-oriented committees, advisory groups and programmes under the ‘Better Regulation’ agenda.

Others who must be interviewed under caution should include Prime Minister Theresa May who reaffirmed this deregulatory policy in 2016 and 2017, as ‘Cutting Red Tape’. and all ministers responsible for decisions on cutting health and safety in favour of reducing burdens on business, including, but not exclusively, ministers at the DWP, the DCLG, and those responsible for the Red Tape Challenge since 2010, those in charge of negotiating Brexit, plus any others who have made government sanctioned attacks on health and safety regulation and enforcement.  Of particular note is Oliver Letwin chairing a meeting under Brexit and the Red Tape Challenge on the deregulation of health and safety law for construction materials on the very day of the Grenfell Fire.

You are reported as stating that the criminal investigation would bring whoever is to blame to justice: “You can’t listen to the accounts of the survivors, the families, and those that lost loved ones, and listen to the 999 calls, like our investigation has done, and not want to hold people to account for a fire that should not have happened.”  We are pleased to hear this and insist that to honour this commitment, and to prevent other disasters, requires investigating and holding to account all those responsible for creating the deregulated health and safety environment including David Cameron and Theresa May and their ministers that have championed this model of corporate and governmental institutional neglect.

We will be pleased to provide more information on health and safety deregulation to your investigation team

Yours sincerely

Hilda Palmer, Acting Chair Hazards Campaign

‘Good work’ review, should be entitled ‘Damned Work’!

Responding to the ‘Taylor Review’ Employment Practices in the Modern Economy published today the Hazards Campaign says its conclusions are “deluded and misleading at best. “

Janet Newsham of the Hazards Campaign says that “Conclusions contained in the Taylor review of modern working practices published today, called ‘Good Work’(1), are deluded and misleading at best and are conspiring with the so called ‘gig’ employers at worst. The document continues to sanction unscrupulous employers, exploiting and harming their work force in whatever form they have chosen to employ them.”

The report suggests seven steps towards fair and decent work and talks about a national strategy for work explicitly directed toward the goal of good work for all. It says that this should include basic principles of a ‘fair balance of rights and responsibilities with a ‘baseline of protection’.

Janet Newsham observes: “Surely that is what employment law and contract law is all about? It would however have been more positive to provide employment rights from day one of employment and to make sure that all workers have decent employment rights as detailed for ‘employees’.

“The report suggests that ‘technological change’ can ‘offer new opportunities’, but this seems to be only in the interests of employers. It does not cover the way new technology is subjecting workers to ‘micromanagement’ and unfair scrutiny, surveillance and control and how it is being used to speed up processes to unacceptable levels of work and denying them basic welfare rights, such as toilet breaks and lunch breaks.

The Hazards Campaign asks what is stopping employers providing flexibility with workers now?

“We believe that these employers want a one sided flexibility. Employers already have the ability to employ people on permanent contracts, with negotiated hours with flexibility and self-management of their work. These so called gig employers, are devoid of employment decency and mutual respect. They want regimented control to maximise their profit at everyone’s expense other than their own.

“Ridiculously, the report says it is not ‘national regulation but responsible corporate governance’ that is needed. If this was the case, then this report would not have been produced. It is because workers are being exploited at every turn that regulation is vital.

“Finally, the Hazards Campaign would agree that the ‘shape and content of work and individual health and well-being are strongly related’. We need employers to stop killing, injuring and making workers ill. Workers are being ‘damned’ to bad working practices, low paid precarious work without any opportunity to progress or improve their pay, and conditions at work (including health, safety and welfare). Vulnerable workers cannot challenge bad safety, unhealthy, unfair or discriminatory working practices for fear of their work being terminated. They are powerless and treated with contempt.”

“Every year 50,000 plus workers die in the UK because of their work (2). We need employers to take their health and safety  responsibilities seriously by assessing the risks and eliminating and controlling them. We don’t need more words about proactive workplace health, we need all those in influential positions to reinforce the importance of health, safety and welfare excellence in our workplaces and for employers to act on it. ”

More Information: Janet Newsham Tel: 0161 636 7557 or mobile: 07734 317158

Note for Editors:
1. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/good-work-the-taylor-review-of-modern-working-practices
2. http://www.gmhazards.org.uk/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Hazards-Campaign-challenging-the-HSE-statistics.pdf

FACK Statement on the suicide of George Cheese

FACK Statement on the suicide of George Arthur Cheese, apprentice at Audi Dealership, Reading

The Coroner Peter Bedford has concluded that Audi Reading management were not responsible for the death of apprentice George Cheese. 1

Stressing that there were other factors in play, Peter Bedford said he understood Cheese’s parents’ desire to blame the Audi dealership, but added that steps taken by the management following his death had succeeded in improving conditions there.

Families Against Corporate Killers has taken up this case as it highlights yet again the completely inadequate way in which work-related suicides are handled by the criminal justice system, and especially those relating to bullying of young people.  We were not present at the Inquest and did not hear the evidence the Coroner took into account in making his conclusion.   But whatever other factors were ‘in play’ in his death, the appalling bullying George suffered at work, as reported at the Inquest, must be addressed and those responsible held to account.  This verdict only lets employers off the hook.

We are concerned that there does not seem to have been an investigation under the Joint Protocol on Work-Related Death;  there may be no-one held to account for the bullying George suffered at his workplace, which as  reported at the Inquest was known about and allowed to continue by management.  We do not feel that steps taken by his employer after George took his own life in any way absolve them of their actions.  The catalogue of bullying abuse George faced is heartbreaking and includes:

“His parents said George  “over the moon” when he got the position at the Audi dealership, but he soon  started coming home covered in bruises and had holes burned into his clothes

“George Cheese’s coworkers at the Reading garage locked him in a cage, doused him in brake fluid and set his clothes set on fire.

“The court heard of one occasion when four men held him down while a fifth punched his leg, leaving him with a long-lasting limp.

 “Much of the abuse was dismissed as “banter” and “horseplay” by his then colleagues.

“After the police returned his belongings, his mother found 14 diary entries saved in the calendar app on his iPad, describing traumatic events from his workplace. One said: “My boss told me to hurry up and hang myself because I’m a useless piece of shit.”

“Cheese referred to a “PC” in his diary entries, writing: “PC tied me up, pressure-washed me. Thought it was hilarious. I couldn’t stand up afterwards. He called me a pussy and I had to walk home soaking wet.”

Another entry said “PC” had approached Cheese after his parents complained to the company and called him “a pussy who went telling tales to mummy”.

Work-Related suicides are on the rise and we estimate account for at least 300 deaths per year. 2 The HSE excludes suicides from being reported under the Reporting of injuries, death and dangerous  Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) 3  and they are not properly investigated under the Joint Protocol on Work Related Death 4.

Consequently the employers and managers who play a role in the bullying or other work conditions that lead to a death by suicide are not held to account, and there are rarely any prosecutions for the work-related actions such as bullying, or long hours, excessive workloads, low pay and insecurity, all of which are reported to drive workers to take their own lives.

The Inquest is not a place to determine or ascribe blame, but to ascertain who died, when, where and how.  It is the authority responsible for enforcing health and safety in the workplace – the HSE or Local Authority in this case- and the police under the Joint Protocol for Work Related Death which should investigate, hold employers to account, take enforcement action to ensure future compliance,  and if there is sufficient evidence take prosecutions for breaches in the law.

Work-related suicides are not counted by the HSE, therefore do not count and are not taken seriously. Even when there is a blatant link with work, such as taking of a life in a workplace and letters specific work causes.  5

In a similar case to that of George Cheese, in Manchester in 2003 , 18 year old Hannah Kirkham took an overdose and died because she was being bullied at KFC.  Unlike in George’s case, the effect of the bullying was accepted as a major cause of her death.  At the Inquest in 2005,  the jury delivered a narrative verdict saying ‘she meant to kill herself by taking an overdose, was clinically depressed and this was “significantly influenced” by bullying at work. 6

However, as in George’s case, the Coroner ( Simon Nelson) , also noted favourably the employers’ action after her death: ‘KFC’s reaction to this inquiry in my view was appropriate, sensitive and proactive.”  He added he hoped anti-bullying policies made by the firm would prevent “similar tragic incidents”.

In both George’s and Hannah’s case, management were aware of, or shamefully, participated in totally unacceptable behaviour towards a vulnerable young colleague yet are not held accountable for the tragic outcome. In both cases the Coroners referred approvingly to action taken after the death.

‘Lessons have been learned’ are often the cruellest words a family can hear after someone they love has been killed by an employer’s negligence.  While everyone wants to ensure no-one else dies, it is surely only to be expected that improvements will be made? That an employee’s death would be a ‘wake up call’ for a negligent employer ?  But changes put in place afterwards, which should by law have been there before to stop the person dying, are cold comfort and should not be used to absolve the employers’ failures or show them in a better light.  It is not sufficient for justice that future deaths are prevented if employers are allowed to get away with the actions that contribute to a worker taking their life.

FACK are looking into work-related suicides generally and George Cheese’s death in particular.  We feel that work related suicides cannot be left to Inquests alone as they cannot hold employers to account for actions they have taken, or failed to take, that contribute to the suicide.  We are calling for

  • The HSE to change their policy and make it a duty under the Reporting of Injuries Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) – http://www.hse.gov.uk/riddor/reportable-incidents.htm for employers to report suicide of employees when there is any suspicion  it might be work-related.
  • Ensure that all signatories to the Join Protocol on Work-Related Death – http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/wrdp1.pdf-  investigate suicides for work-related issues.
  • The Local Authority with responsibility for enforcing health and safety legislation in George’s workplace to take action to ensure the employers are held to account for the failings that allowed George to be bullied and contributed to his death, and to take enforcement action to ensure future compliance.

Notes:

  1. https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/may/25/george-cheese-bullied-mechanic-killed-himself-audi-garage-not-to-blame-coroner
  2. The Whole Story”: http://www.gmhazards.org.uk/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Hazards-Campaign-challenging-the-HSE-statistics.pdf
  3. RIDDOR:  http://www.hse.gov.uk/riddor/reportable-incidents.htm;
  4. Joint Protocol on Work-Related Death: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/wrdp1.pdf
  5. The Last Goodbye http://www.hazards.org/suicide/suicidalwork.htm

Inquest into Hannah Kirkham’s death: . http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/manchester/4508022.stm