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News release: Hazards Campaign and Independent SAGE call for no workers to return to workplaces unless Covid safety plans are in place

Hazards Campaign and Independent Sage call for no workers to return to workplaces unless Covid Safety Plans are in place and enforcement bodies have agreed them.

Press statement for immediate release

1st September 2020
Hazards campaign news release,1st September 2020 (No embargo)

The Hazards Campaign accurately predicted that the forced return to unsafe workplaces would fuel an explosion in workplace COVID19 outbreaks1. These continue to grow, now affecting hundreds more workers and their families in existing outbreaks with more new workplace clusters across the UK.

Another tranche of workplaces, schools, are due to open in England and Wales starting this week and the experience of Scotland with several serious school outbreaks highlights the dangers. The existing health and safety system is failing to protect workers communities and the economy.

The Hazards Campaign jointly presented a paper with Independent SAGE on how workers can safely return to workplaces on 28th August 2.  The paper calls for government investment in a tougher regulatory system to check up on employers, with more inspections and control by  the HSE and LA enforcement authorities to certify Covid-Safe workplaces before they open to ensure workers and communities are safe.

The Chair of the Hazards Campaign Janet Newsham said “Thousands of workers have become ill and hundreds have died because risks of Covid-19 infection and transmission haven’t been controlled in the workplace. As hundreds of thousands of workers are urged to travel and return to indoor workplaces with colleagues, after a period of working alone from home, unless there is external verification that employers have properly assessed and controlled all the risk of infection and transmission, including from aerosols 3, there will be more outbreaks and  start local restrictions.

“The joint report includes a Covid-19 safe workplace charter which concentrates on three main areas: Employers responsibilities, Regulators responsibilities and Central Government responsibilities.  In addition to certification of workplaces, the charter calls on Government to legislate for ‘Roving Safety Reps’, increased funding and resources for enforcement, and sufficient financial support for workers to be able to self-isolate or take sick leave without loss of earnings.

“For weeks now we have been recording clusters of workers who have tested positive, become ill or died from Covid-19 and the numbers involved clearly indicate they have become infected in workplaces.  The reasons are because workplaces have failed to provide the necessary control of transmission risks -physical distancing, increased cleaning and control of aerosol transmission by increased and improved ventilation with fewer workers in confined indoor spaces.  They are also because workers have no safe travel to work or they are unable to isolate or take sick leave when they are unwell or have been in contact with an infected person because they do not get full pay either having to rely on Statutory Sick Pay or not entitled to even that pittance. Rapid spread of workplace infections is also caused by the ineffective national privatised  Find, Track, Trace and Isolate system in place, and the local much more effective systems are starved of cash and resources.

“If these incidents are not recorded, investigated and acted on then improvements to working conditions that spread the disease will not be implemented fast enough to stop the spread and more workplaces will have to lock-down.  This isn’t good for the health of workers or the economy.

“Many employers have worked hard to ensure the mental and physical health of their workers during this pandemic, many working closely with their union safety reps but unless all employers control the risks then the virus will spread into the community and into other workplaces.

“The charter has the support of trade unions, the Society of Occupational Medicine and the Collegium Ramazzini and has been welcomed by the TUC.

“This is an important report and it is welcomed by the TUC.  Health and Safety is a paramount concern and employers, government and its agencies all need to take the right and necessary actions to minimise risk and prevent further coronavirus infections, support the economy and rebuild confidence.”

For more information, press only:
Contact: Janet Newsham
Email: janet@gmhazards.org.uk
Tel: 0773 431 7158

Notes for Editors:
1. We predicted an explosion in workplace Covid-19 outbreaks- 2 weeks later that’s exactly what we’ve got http://www.hazardscampaign.org.uk/blog/we-predicted-an-explosion-in-workplace-covid-19-outbreaks-two-weeks-later-thats-exactly-what-weve-got
2 .Youtube recording of the presentation: https://twitter.com/IndependentSage/status/1299324316706770944
Joint Independent Sage and Hazards Campaign Report: https://www.independentsage.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/COVID-Safe-document-agreed.pdf
3. KEEP YOUR DISTANCE: Is two metres too far or not far enough to protect from COVID-19 and who benefits and who loses if it is reduced ? Hazards Campaign, 22nd June 2020

For more information:

The Hazards Campaign is a UK-wide network of resource centres and campaigners. The Hazards Campaign supports those organising and campaigning for justice and safety at work.

Contact details:

The Hazards Campaign
c/o Greater Manchester Hazards Centre
Windrush Millennium Centre
70 Alexandra Road
Manchester, M16 7WD
ENGLAND
website www.hazardscampaign.org.uk
twitter @hazardscampaign
facebook www.facebook.com/groups/123746101003963

 

We predicted an explosion in workplace Covid-19 outbreaks – two weeks later that’s exactly what we’ve got

We predicted an explosion in workplace outbreaks, as workers were forced back to work – two weeks later that is exactly what we’ve got

Hazards campaign news release, 20th August 2020 (No embargo)

The workplace is emerging as the new frontline for Covid-19 spread, after the UK government and health agencies ignored warnings on the dangers of a rush back to work, occupational health experts have warned.

Janet Newsham, the chair of the national Hazards Campaign says: ‘We’ve got an unprecedented abdication of responsibility by HSE, which has never before eschewed its enforcement responsibility this way, or denied oversight to protect workers in workplaces where deadly disease risks, carcinogens and major accident hazards can be encountered. They have been AWOL throughout the pandemic and as a result workers have died and many more have been left with long term serious ill health’.

The Hazards Campaign has raised concerns about the unsafe opening of workplaces, including schools. ‘While the community transmission is so high reopening of schools will massively increase contacts between potentially infected individuals and will lead to pressure for more people to return to workplaces, greatly increasing risks.’

Over the last four weeks, Public Health England (PHE) figures (1) show the ‘workplace’ has emerged as the second most common site of Covid-19 ‘situations/incidents’, trailing only care homes. PHE’s definition of workplaces does not include work-related Covid incidents in hospitals, schools or prisons, so under-estimates the real extent of occupationally-related cases.

Evidence elsewhere, including France (2) and Germany (3), show workplaces are the new frontline for virus spread. Without adequate protection, rights and oversight, we are going to give the pandemic a whole new lease of life and the economy will continue to be decimated. A recent report ‘COVID-19 clusters and outbreaks in occupational settings in the EU/EEA and the UK’ published on the 11th August, 2020 details some of the occupational outbreaks across Europe. (3)

The Hazards Campaign has been tracking workplace outbreaks and its dossier shows food production remains a major hotspot for outbreaks, but there is a clear indication that the problem is wider, with multiple clusters also occurring in factories, schools, hospitality and other sectors.

At the start of the outbreak we were promised a ‘Covid-Secure’ return to work. What we have got instead is government-driven stampede back into workplaces, without the necessary oversight or support for workers or for businesses. The Government are forcing children back into unsafe schools, so that parents can return to unsafe workplaces and the chaotic and irresponsible opening of pubs, clubs and gyms during a high transmission of a potentially fatal disease is madness. The Government must also ensure that all workers are able to access statutory sick pay and there is an extension of the furlough programme to restrict the transmission of the virus (4).

The Covid-19 workplace clusters that are now appearing all over the country, are being put down to individuals breaking the rules, but when that coincides with workplaces closing down, mass testing of workers and mass positive results of the same workers, then this is uncontrolled transmission of the virus in workplaces, especially where workers are working inside buildings with an aerosol risk of transmission. (5)

If our society is to open schools then the transmission must be low, and track, trace and isolate must be fully functioning at a high level of contact and all the risks in that workplace must be controlled at a precautionary level. The enforcement authorities must act now to ensure that employers can demonstrate that they are carrying out their health and safety legal duties. This cant be based on ‘suck it and see’, or on the body bags that pile up, where risks are not controlled. It has to be right first time, and it has to include the full control of all the known risks.

There is a lot more evidence to show the extent of transmission of the virus on surfaces, and by aerosols. (6) This means new ways of working, new facilities and more resources to keep work safe. It means working from home as far as possible, not using public transport unless essential, it means remote teaching and learning, it means utilising new and existing premises to spread people out, it means shift working and shift management, it means controlling and increasing ventilation, it means less people at a time in workplaces, it may mean more people working less hours or different hours and it means working with trade unions and safety representatives to identify and control all the risks.

We need a community, collective and carefully controlled response to stopping the transmission of the virus, so that we can eventually reduce the controls necessary, return to normal working and hopefully a vaccination is found.

Notes to editors

1. PHE Weekly Report, Week 33, released 14 August 2020
2. Workplaces – not parties – ‘the biggest source of coronavirus contagion in France’ The Local FR,  3rd August 2020
3. COVID-19 clusters and outbreaks in occupational settings in the EU/EEA and the UK, 11 August 2020,  European Centre for Diseases and Protection
4. Economic Aspects of the COVID-19 Crisis in the UK, The DELVE Initiative, 14 August 2020.
5. Recognizing and controlling airborne transmission of SARS‐CoV‐2 in indoor environments, Joseph G. Allen and Linsey C. Marr, Indoor Air, 19 June 2020.
6. KEEP YOUR DISTANCE: Is two metres too far or not far enough to protect from COVID-19 and who benefits and who loses if it is reduced ? Hazards Campaign, 22nd June 2020

Further information

Media enquiries

Janet Newsham
Tel: 07734 317 158

 

Studies undermine Williamson’s ‘little evidence’ claim on school risks

Hazards campaign news release, 11 August 2020 (No embargo)

A series of studies, including two in recent days from UK experts, discredit claims by education secretary Gavin Williamson that there is ‘little evidence’ of a Covid-19 transmission risk in schools, workplace safety advocates have warned.

The safe-to-return claim by Gavin Williamson is patently untrue and could drive an upturn in Covid-19 cases.

“The safe-to-return claim by Gavin Williamson is patently untrue and could drive an upturn in Covid-19 cases,” said Janet Newsham, the chair of the national Hazards Campaign. “The education secretary is either ignorant of or choosing to ignore considerable evidence of outbreak risks in schools.  He is also failing to acknowledge the detrimental consequences of a ‘stop-start’ disruption to schooling and the economy as local flare-ups continue.”

The campaigners point to a study1 published on 24 July that concluded there is “evidence of robust spread of SARS-CoV-2 in high schools, and more limited spread in primary schools. Some countries with relatively large class sizes in primary schools (eg. Chile and Israel) reported sizeable outbreaks in some of those schools.” The paper, co-authored by Muge Cevik from the NHS Lothian Infection Service and the University of St Andrews, noted “these reports suggest that classroom crowding and other factors related to social distancing in classrooms/schools may play a role in the spread of SARS-CoV-2 in primary schools. Those findings should have implications for school openings in different age groups of children, and they suggest the need to better protect adults over the age of 60 during the community spread of SARS-CoV-2.”

A second study2 published on 3 August by scientists from University College London (UCL) and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found current testing and contact tracing levels are not sufficient to prevent a second wave of coronavirus after schools reopen. The researchers, who found the track-trace-isolate system was not up to the task, warned: “Without sufficient coverage of a test-trace-isolate strategy the UK risks a serious second epidemic peak either in December or February.”

The Hazards Campaign is also concerned the move will coincide with a relaxation of lockdown rules and government pressure for a reduction in working from home. “The government is failing to take adequate account of a simultaneous wider return to work, which our tracking of UK workplace clusters indicates could be the focus for increasing local outbreaks in offices, factories and other workplaces,” Newsham said. “We have the double jeopardy of return to schools without the essential trace-trace-isolate system in place and a return to work with oversight by workplace safety regulators at a virtual standstill.”

Newsham concluded: “Education in the UK is being damaged by neglected and dangerous infrastructure, poorly resourced classrooms and education staff stressed-out through understaffing and overwork,” said Newsham. “Crowding kids back into these schools is a unnecessary gamble and could be counterproductive, setting back Covid-19 prevent efforts and lead to further shutdowns.”

Latest Public Health England figures3 show workplace cases are an increasing proportion of overall Covid-19 infections and the great majority of cases are in working age people.

Notes to editors

Hazards Campaign coronavirus hub: www.hazards.org/coronavirus

  1. Edward Goldstein, Marc Lipsitch, Muge Cevik, On the effect of age on the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in households, schools and the community, medRxiv preprint, 24 July 2020. doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.07.19.20157362
  2. Jasmina Panovska-Griffiths and others, Determining the optimal strategy for reopening schools, the impact of test and trace interventions, and the risk of occurrence of a second COVID-19 epidemic wave in the UK: a modelling study, Lancet Child and Adolescent Health, Online first 3 August 2020. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S2352-4642(20)30250-9.
  3. Weekly Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Surveillance Report, Week 32, PHE, 7 August 2020

The Hazards Campaign calls for the government to adopt immediately a zero-Covid19 policy

Hazards Campaign calls for  the UK government to adopt immediately a zero-Covid19 policy with prevention of work-related infection and transmission a priority – or the resignation of the Prime Minster

Press Statement For Immediate Release 31/7/20

Hazards Campaign demands the Government implements a policy of zero Covid-19 transmission to drive down infection rate, save health and lives and ends it’s knee jerk reactionary responses to the transmission which blames individuals rather than its own incompetence.

The Government has created a chaotic and irrational response to the continuing transmission of the virus, ignoring work as a major site of infection and transmission, which will inevitably lead to deaths and more people left with debilitating health conditions. It will also prevent any return to normal life.

Last night’s 11th hour announcement in Greater Manchester, parts of Lancashire and Yorkshire, for a partial return to lock-down is causing community mistrust and anger as it comes just a few hours before Eid and affects many Asian communities. It shows panic and lack of consultation and planning, and will lead to confusion about the rules and mistrust of following them.

The government lockdown came too late, and eased restrictions too early in a race to return to work when it had not met even its own five tests, let alone Hazards Campaign and teaching union more stringent requirements. Government failures on test, track and trace left local councils and public health authorities without sufficient information such as where people work. It has deprived them of the tools needed to stop outbreaks fast and to communicate concerns with their communities about the continuing track to returning to restricted living.

For Government policies to work, they have to have the trust and confidence of the population but this Government has failed to gain that support. In fact through actions like the ‘Cummingsgate’ saga, they have destroyed and sabotaged the support they need to protect lives. Stupid announcements that accuse ordinary people of failings while at the same time exonerating officials and ministers who fail to act in accordance with their own laws, is putting the return to work and lives at great risk .

The UK and in particular England has one of the worst death and transmission statistics in the world. This isn’t because we are unlucky but because the Government has failed to act, failed to protect and failed in its job to put the health of its people before profits. Workers health is public health. The Government failed to prevent transmission and spread of Covid-19 at work. By not providing good information, support and enforcement action for workers it is creating environments for the virus to spread at work, amongst workers’ families and into the whole community. This is nothing less than ‘social murder’.

The Hazards Campaign calls for Government to immediately adopt a zero-Covid19 policy with prevention of work-related infection and transmission a priority or the resignation of the Prime Minister if he refuses to do this. We call for financial resources and support to involve workers, their unions, health and safety authorities and local public health in stamping out the pandemic at work.

Janet Newsham, Chair of Hazards Campaign said:

“We are calling for the resignation of the PM because he has lost the trust and confidence of the population and with that the ability to drive the virus out of our country which is essential for the future mental and physical health of its people”

‘The North of England is in chaos, following closely behind the Leicester saga and hundreds of workplace outbreaks across the country since the unplanned chaotic return to work started. People are angry that pubs and restaurants will stay open when visits to family are stopped. It makes no sense and will not protect and save people’s lives, nor will it regenerate the economy, it will only extend the misery that this Government has inflicted on its people.’

‘Much of the current mess is because of failed enforcement in workplaces, failed lock-downs and controls of the risks, none of which has been mentioned but the Government chooses to blame individuals and not their own incompetence.’

For more information, press only
Contact: Janet Newsham
Email: janet@gmhazards.org.uk
Tel: 07734317158

Keep your distance: Is two metres too far or not far enough?

In a newly published commentary, safety experts conclude the arguments for a blanket reduction of the two metres social distancing guidance do not stack up.

“The arguments for a blanket reduction of 2m in the UK economy do not stack up. A limited but growing body of scientific evidence, based on a better understanding of particle physics and aerosols and supplemented by case studies of very recent clusters, continues to support a precautionary approach to 2m and its continuation in many settings where public and worker safety is at risk and there are no effective alternatives and no vaccines. The science for lowering the 2m distance, however, appears to be limited if not absent at this stage.”

KEEP YOUR DISTANCE: Is two metres too far or not far enough to protect from COVID-19 and who benefits and who loses if it is reduced ?
A Commentary by Andrew Watterson, Rory O’Neill, Janet Newsham, Hilda Palmer June 22nd 2020.

Read the commentary in full here

No Going back to work unless workers say it is safe! – Hazards Campaign press statement

Press Statement immediate release 6.5.20

No Going back to work unless workers say it is safe!

Janet Newsham, Hazards Campaign spokesperson says:

It is clear we cannot trust the UK Government, Public Health England or the Health and Safety Executive, HSE, to protect workers and also public health in a safe return to work.  It’s only collective action by workers and their unions that will keep us safe and we need Government to make this explicit in their conditions for relaxing the lockdown. They must make it an enforceable goal that employers’ legal duty is to prevent work-related Covid 19 infections, that employers must consult workers and their representatives who must sign off on  risk assessments and safe systems of work, and for the HSE and L.A.s to be funded and empowered to police employers to do this. The most important point is that there should be no return to workplaces unless workers agree it really can be made safe to do so, and all the checks we lay out are put in place and enacted.”

The Hazards Campaign accuses the UK Government of having:

  • misled the UK to the highest number of deaths from COVID-19 of any country in Europe, second only to USA in world and astonishingly high rates of deaths amongst workers in NHS, Social Care, Transport and other essential and public-facing jobs, and amongst BAME and women workers;
  • failed to prevent the spread of the virus by locking down late and incompletely, encouraging non-essential work in construction, manufacturing, distribution and call-centres to continue to put workers and public at greater risk of virus transmission;
  • failed to ensure the provision of sufficient PPE for all NHS, Social Care and other essential workers who need it;
  • failed to provide the highest level of health protective PPE by allowing Public Health England to downgrade guidance to fit supply not WHO health-based specifications;
  • failed to make prevention of work-related Covid infections and deaths a specific and enforceable aim;
  • broken the UK health and system by deregulation, slashing budgets and powers of HSE and Local Authorities and
  • abandoned workers to their fate by failing to enforce their legal and human rights to safe healthy workplaces free from risks, including of exposure to COVID-19.

Janet Newsham, adds: “Now the Government publishes proposals on relaxing the lockdown and allowing a return to work outside of the home. These are weak, ineffective and reproduce all the bad working conditions that helped to spread the virus in the first place. They do not inspire trust amongst workers who are justifiably afraid for their own, their families, and their community’s health. Covid-19 has exposed the failures of austerity, of inequality, insecurity and low pay alongside poor health and safety conditions at work, and made clear the connection between workers’ health and public health which show that unless the workforce is protected public health cannot be protected.

“The Hazards Campaign sets out seven preconditions which must all be met before any relaxation of lockdown can be contemplated, and 12 more detailed requirements to be fulfilled at work before workers and their union representatives say it is safe to return. The Seven pre-conditions:

  1. Proven sustained low level of COVID-19 infections and deaths.
  2. Testing, Tracing, Isolating via a demonstrably effective intelligence gathering system for infection rates.
  3. Hospital, Care and Residential settings have proven capacity and ability to cope with normal demand of all illnesses and injuries plus COVID-19 infections without being under excessive pressure.
  4. Strict maintenance of social/physical distancing rules of 2 metres minimum in public spaces backed up by hand washing, sanitisers and cleaning of surfaces.
  5. Safe for workers to use public transport and public spaces including:
  6. In all workplaces the prevention of work-related COVID-19 infections must be the enforced goal.
  7. Complete closure of all non-essential workplaces for at least 3 weeks before easing of the lockdown

Requirements for employers to fulfil:

  1. Ensure consultation and involvement of trade unions safety reps, workers’ reps, trade union officers and where possible HSE inspectors or LA EHOs and health and safety officers, to ensure the safety and health of the workforce and of the public.
  2. Review all risk assessments in light of the continuing health risks of the COVID-19, make new risk assessments and develop safety systems of work which are fully consulted upon and agreed, approved by health and safety regulators, and for which training and monitoring are organised. Pay specific attention to risk for those groups of workers who are disproportionately represented in illness and deaths figures such as BAME and women workers.
  3. Review safety of premises and equipment.
  4. Deep clean work premises before work is reopened and then maintain high standards of cleanliness and hygiene.
  5. Review staffing levels and work-loads.
  6. Review safe travel to and from work.
  7. Support for the mental health for all workers.
  8. Provide supportive occupational health services and health surveillance.
  9. Ensure no disciplinary consequence or detriment for taking sick/caring leave/self-isolation.
  10. Provide mental and physical disability/ill health support.
  11. Provide additional measures in higher risk essential workplaces to ensure the safety, health and welfare of workers in specific essential occupations arising from risk of COVID-19 exposure.
  12. Wider worker protections must be ensured.

More information contact Janet Newsham Tel: 07734317158

Notes

Hazards Campaign: We go back to work safely or not at all  http://www.hazardscampaign.org.uk/blog/hazards-campaign-we-go-back-to-work-safely-or-not-at-all

Professor Andrew Watterson Covid19 in the UK and occupational health and safety. Predictable but not inevitable failures  what can we do now: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/340502136_COVID_19_in_the_UK_and_occupational_health_and_safety_-_predictable_but_not_inevitable_failures_what_can_we_do_now_updated

Hazards Magazine: http://www.hazards.org/index.htm  Exposed Coronavirus issue 149

Hazards Campaign: http://www.hazardscampaign.org.uk/ Briefings, statements on CV19

Hazards Campaign Detailed briefing on Risk Assessments for CV19 coming soon.

TUC Risk Assessment: https://www.tuc.org.uk/research-analysis/reports/risk-assessment-guide-safety-reps

TUC Preparing for return to work outside the home https://www.tuc.org.uk/research-analysis/reports/preparing-return-work-outside-home-trade-union-approach

Hazards Campaign Twitter: @hazardscampaign
Facebook: We didn’t vote to die at work
email:  info@hazardscampign.org.uk

 

 

 

 

Hazards Campaign: We go back to work safely, or not at all

Hazards Campaign – Going Back to work safely or not at all!
No easing of the Lockdown until seven pre-conditions are met
What we need at work to Go Back and Move Forward!

There is no conflict between economic recovery and health because a healthy economic recovery requires healthy workers and people.  The SARS-CoV-2 Virus causes the disease Covid -19.

“ The COVID-19 pandemic has made the links between occupational health and safety and wider public health very stark indeed. Workers Health is Public Health. It has also highlighted the fact that not only the health and safety of health, social and emergency workers is critical to fighting the pandemic but so too is the health and safety of key workers in the service, retail , transport, distribution and manufacturing etc sectors. If you do not protect the workforce in a pandemic you do not protect the public.” Professor A. Watterson

Relaxing the lockdown and going back to work must follow the Precaution, Prevention, Protection and Participation approach.

Precaution is needed as we still do not know enough about the virus or its transmission in various built and open environments. Recent research shows that airborne spread may be important not just droplet contamination of surfaces, and that people can spread the virus although asymptomatic or even pre-symptomatic.

Prevention of work-related COVID-19 infections must be the aim and top priority for employers, regulators and government in all workplaces, essential and non-essential, and it must be enforced rigorously by a properly funded and empowered Health and Safety Executive and Local Authority Environmental Health Officers, EHOs. The Hazards Campaign supports the ILO call for COVID-19 to be recognised as an occupational disease

Protection of all workers must be achieved using the health and safety law control hierarchy, the highest standards of occupational health, safety and hygiene at work, and measures to protect workers from infection by the public.

Participation of workers and trade unions all levels – not safe unless workers say it is.

It is essential that relaxation of lockdown is done safely so it prevents an immediate and exponential rise in the COVID-19 infection rate that would create a second peak of illnesses and deaths and risk of overwhelming the NHS, which would lead to emergency lockdown again. To avoid this requires national testing, tracing, isolation, with reports and records of infections and deaths provided in an open, transparent regionally and locally accountable manner, capable of rapid alerts to identify local and workplace hotspots which can be acted upon swiftly.

No easing of Lockdown until these Seven Pre-conditions are met:

1. Proven sustained low level of COVID-19 infections and deaths.
This must use all available national and regional data for infections, illnesses and deaths in all setting, such as ONS figures, including excess death comparisons with previous 5 year averages.

2. Testing, Tracing, Isolating via a demonstrably effective intelligence gathering system for infection rates. An open and transparent, locally situated public health system of testing, tracing and isolating for those with COVID-19 infection, with all results made public. This must include:

  • easily accessible testing facilities – drive through and mobile testing for all who need it
  • providing test results rapidly and directly to individuals tested, publicly and to national and local health services
  • ensuring COVID-19 infections and deaths of workers are fully recorded by occupation and workplace in the national testing scheme, and also recorded by employers, reported as notifiable diseases, and reported to HSE through RIDDOR for tracing of transmission and infection mechanisms related to work
  • baseline testing available to all workers before they return to work, and a rapid response to increases in infection rate geographically, sectorally and by workplaces. For example when cases start to rise or cases are reported in workplaces, then there should be an automatic ‘stop’ work’ step until the reasons for the rise are explained and action taken. National lockdown should be resumed if widespread infection rate appears to be increasing exponentially again.
  • All testing results and statistics relating to COVID-19 must be dis-aggregated by sex, ethnicity and occupation

3 . Hospital, Care and Residential settings have proven capacity and ability to cope with normal demand of all illnesses and injuries plus COVID-19 infections without being under excessive pressure

4. Strict maintenance of social/physical distancing rules of 2 metres minimum in public spaces backed up by hand washing, sanitisers and cleaning of surfaces

5.  Safe for workers to use public transport and public spaces including:

  • highest level of shielding, screens and distancing protection for workers in places of public congregation like public transport, shops, schools, hospitality etc., plus appropriate PPE where 2 metre physical distance cannot be guaranteed at all times. On public transport there is a need for screens, shields, gloves, alternative payment methods such as cashless cards for protection of workers as passengers and as operators.
  • PPE for the public to protect workers, based on the latest research on airborne droplets and transmission, alongside information and training plus provision of specific sourcing of PPE for the public which does not compete with health care and other essential workers

 6.  In all workplaces the prevention of work-related COVID-19 infections must be the enforced goal.

  • This must be top priority for employers, regulators and government, explicitly stated in health and safety policies and practices, and rigorously enforced by the HSE and Local Authorities.
  • The 2 metre rule should apply unless it has been demonstrated the work is essential and there is no alternative. Then high-level engineering controls, systems of work, appropriate PPE and other alternative measures must be used and approved by the workers and regulators.
  • All health and safety measures must be backed up by employers showing demonstrable safe systems of adapted work organisation and workplaces to ensure safe and healthy working is practical, possible and will be enforced.
  • All risk assessments reviewed to a precautionary level of control to prevent all exposure to COVID-19 with specific attention to risk for those groups of workers who are disproportionately represented in illness and deaths figures. Although men are more at risk of death from COVID19 in every age group, black and minority ethnic and women workers are becoming ill and dying at a disproportionate rate and reducing their risks at work must be specifically taken into account.

7. Complete closure of all non-essential workplaces for at least 3 weeks before easing of the lockdown

  • to enable employers to plan, consult with union reps, workers’ reps and health and safety regulators, to develop and implement plans to ensure their workplaces and job organisation meet the highest level of ordinary health and safety plus compliance with additional public health guidance, and
  • to give the gradual easing of lockdown the best chance of success.
Going back to work– Moving forward

Workplaces must be demonstrably safe or remain closed. Prevention of work-related COVID-19 infections must be the explicit top priority for all employers, regulators and government, stated in health and safety policies and practices and rigorously enforced. If the workforce is not protected then the public will not be protected.

All employers must demonstrate that in consultation with union safety reps or workers representatives, union officers or health and safety inspectors, that they have reviewed existing risk assessments including generic pandemic planning and made new COSHH  risk assessments, then established safe systems of work, training for workers and constant monitoring. They must use the COSHH hierarchy of control to prevent exposure to SARS CoV-2 by adapting work organisation and workplaces to ensure safe and healthy working is practical, possible in all circumstances, and will be enforced. If it is impossible to adapt workplace to meet health and safety requirements including the additional public health guidance for COVID-19 then workplaces cannot reopen.

 Employers must:

1. Ensure consultation and involvement of trade unions safety reps, workers’ reps, trade union officers and where possible HSE inspectors or LA EHOs and health and safety officers, to ensure the safety and health of the workforce and of the public. 

2. Review all risk assessments in light of the continuing health risks of the COVID-19, make new risk assessments and develop safety systems of work which are fully consulted on and agreed, approved by health and safety regulators, and for which training and monitoring are organised. Pay specific attention to risk for those groups of workers who are disproportionately represented in illness and deaths figures such as  BAME and women workers. Although men are more at risk of death from COVID19 in every age group,  BAME and women workers are becoming ill and dying at a disproportionate rate and reducing their risks must be specifically taken into account.

3. Review safety of premises and equipment, checking ventilation, electrical, mechanical, structural, fire and other relevant safety issues after weeks of lack of use and daily checks during ‘lockdown’ and their appropriateness to be used with the COVID-19 threat.

4. Deep clean work premises before work is reopened and then maintain high standards of cleanliness and hygiene Full COSHH risk assessments for cleaning staff provided with highest level of PPE, safe products and methods of cleaning. After this to maintain high standards of cleanliness of accommodation, safe working with others including public and personal hygiene to be maintained.

5.  Review staffing levels and work-loads
These cannot return to normal as fewer workers will be permitted in given workspace to achieve 2m minimum physical distancing. This means lower workloads, targets and work rates which need to be assessed to ensure this is manageable, and that sufficient numbers of staff are available to support work safely. Consider staggered or alternating shifts with no hot desking.  Temporarily replace people who are sick or self-isolating

6. Review safe travel to and from work
The safe use of public and private transport needs to be considered includes varying hours, length of days, PPE required for travel including safe disposal of and changing facilities for clothes and welfare provision for cleaning/showering at the beginning and end of shift

7. Support for the mental health for all workers
Review stress risk assessments and take account of new work-stress factors – fear of catching COVID-19 at work or on commute, fear of infecting the family, increased anxiety due to the pandemic, grief in workers who have experienced bereavement from COVID-19 etc which will be exacerbated by returning to work.  All workers and especially new workers must be provided with more support, supportive supervision and mentors.  Training will need to be regularly reviewed.

8. Provide supportive occupational health services and health surveillance.
 This should include access to health and medical surveillance, temperature and other observations.  All COVID-19 sickness and deaths of workers need to be recorded by employers, reported to public health authorities as notifiable illness, reported to HSE under RIDDOR, and investigated to establish work-related causes. Immediate action must be taken in the workplace to protect workers and public where cases occur or  start to rise locally. If cases are reported in workplaces, then there should be an automatic ‘stop’ work’ until the reasons for the rise are explained and action taken.

9. Ensure no disciplinary consequence or detriment for taking sick/caring leave/self-isolation 

10. Provide mental and physical disability/ill health support

Risks assessments must take account of workers with underlying conditions, including pregnancy. These and workers returning from sick leave will need reviews to support reasonable adjustments where necessary, including phased return to work.

11. Provide additional measures in higher risk essential workplaces to ensure the safety, health and welfare of workers in specific essential occupations arising from risk of COVID-19 exposure:

  • Health Setting Workers – review of control measures to risks including sufficient quantities and precautionary approach to highest protective levels of PPE
  • Teachers and teaching settings –is it possible to maintain social distance, use of PPE and safe systems of work, reduction of pupil/student numbers
  • Retail Distribution – welfare provisions, cleanliness
  • Transport – protection from of contact with public, 2 metre social distancing and PPE for workers and public
  • Retail – strict maintenance of 2 metre social distancing and PPE for workers and public
  • Cleaners – review of COSHH assessments for all cleaning chemicals and appropriate PPE
  • Social care – review of safe systems of working with several clients, in care homes. This needs to include minimum wages and sickness conditions, safety of sleep overs, public transport, access to and disposal of PPE
  • Postal workers – availability of PPE and safe systems of work

12. Wider worker protections that must be ensured:

  • Income protection for those who are sick or self-isolating at regular level of income
  • All workers must be made aware of their legal rights to refuse work they feel exposes them to danger. This right should be made an enforceable explicit right to refuse work, return to work, or continue to work where safety and health are felt to be at risk, without any immediate or deferred detriment..
  • Protection from victimisation and unfair dismissal where workers or reps have been whistle-blowers, carried out inspections of the workplace, raised issues about concerns with enforcing bodies, or taken sick/caring or self-isolation leave.
  • Direct access to enforcement officers by safety reps via a help- line to raise concerns, obtain advice and help from HSE Inspectors or Local Authority EHOs
  • All COVID-19 sickness and deaths of workers must be reported under RIDDOR to provide intelligence of patterns of exposure at work and possible negligence
  • COVID-19 to be recognised as an occupational disease

Useful Information and sources

Hazards Magazine: http://www.hazards.org/index.htm  Exposed Coronavirus issue 149

Hazards Campaign: http://www.hazardscampaign.org.uk/ Briefings, statements on CV19

Hazards Campaign Detailed briefing on Risk Assessments for CV19 (coming soon).

TUC Risk Assessment: https://www.tuc.org.uk/research-analysis/reports/risk-assessment-guide-safety-reps

TUC Preparing for return to work outside the home https://www.tuc.org.uk/research-analysis/reports/preparing-return-work-outside-home-trade-union-approach

HSE https://www.hse.gov.uk   and special email for union safety and other reps to report concerns at work about Covid19: Union.Covidconcerns@hse.gov.uk

Hazards Campaign Twitter: @hazardscampaign
Facebook: We didn’t vote to die at work                                                                 email:  info@hazardscampign.org.uk

28 April: Remember the dead fight for the living – Hazards Campaign

Hazards Campaign news release 27 April 2020

Tuesday 28 April is International Workers Memorial Day #IWMD20

Remember the Dead Fight for the Living

Fighting for hearts and minds of all workers

Every year on 28 April all over the world trade unions, workers, families mark International Workers Memorial Day because work still hurts, makes ill and kills millions globally every year, and over 50,000 in this country, 140 a day before the pandemic arrived to make things worse. Bad jobs can break your heart, leaving us HEARTBROKEN. Whether the threat at work is another new virus, dangerous substances or heart-breaking demands, your life should not be on the line. Unions can make it better.

The Hazards Campaign brought Workers Memorial Day to the UK in 1990s with twin aims, to Remember the Dead but also to Fight for the Living and has marked it every year since then. This year as Coronavirus rages through the world it is more necessary than ever to honour both those aims so no more workers will die needlessly.

We will remember all those low paid, insecure and exploited workers who are now recognised as essential: NHS workers, social care workers, cleaners, bus drivers, delivery drivers, taxi uber and other transport workers, food chain workers, cleaners, supermarket and other shop workers, postal, education, civil servants, border and prison guards, social & call centre workers etc.

Unions and workers are organising, fighting back and winning sick pay, site closures, pay for all laid off workers and PPE.

There will be action all across the UK, online meetings and physically distanced outdoor meetings and demos in essential workplaces, and #CoronavirusWalkouts in the UK and across the world

Hazards Campaign supports the 11am one minutes silence

to Remember the Dead – those dying from Covid19 and all work hazards.   At home hold up a Heartbroken poster, stand by your door, gate or in the street. At work hold a safe physically distanced outdoor vigil.

In Fighting for the Living, we call for Government and employers to ‘Stop the pandemic at work’ by:

Closing all non-essential workplaces

Paying every worker living wage, liveable sick pay from day 1 to #StayHomeSaveNHSSaveLives

Providing correct PPE for all essential workers #PPENow #NoKitNoCare

No release from ‘lockdown’ or any return to work unless based on highest level of precaution, prevention and protection of all workers.

Testing, tracing and quarantining

The Covid pandemic has made clear that workers health is public health. Workers health is public health, if the workforce is not protected then the public cannot be protected in a pandemic. We need good workplace health and safety to prevent work-related Covid infections, deaths or transmission, and any other preventable work-related illnesses, injuries or deaths either.  See Hazards Campaign Full #IWMD20 Briefing  FACK Statement for #IWMD20

The Hazards Campaign has worked with Greater Manchester Hazards Centre and Families Against Corporate Killers to produce three  new #IWMD20 films: Lean on Me – Families against corporate killers supporting families of those killed at work, and.

Hazards Campaigner talking about IWMD means to them. Fallen tears https://youtu.be/HdXlCUM9IBI

Manchester IWMD20 Zoom Meeting 12 noon https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10222588758448393&set=gm.3224181100960432&type=3&theater&ifg=1

For more information contact Janet Newsham 077343 17158  or Hilda Palmer 0161 792 1044  079298 0024,

Notes:

Hazard Campaign Call to Action, Posters, Social media graphics and full Briefing: http://www.hazardscampaign.org.uk/

The Whole Story – real figures on total deaths at work  http://www.hazardscampaign.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/thewholestory.pdf

TUC RISKs newsletter summary of Trade Union Action on IWMD 28 April
https://www..tuc.org.uk/news/risks-944-22-april-2020

Hazards Magazine Issue 149 Exposed  http://www.hazards.org/index.htm

FACK Statement for #IWMD20 http://www.hazardscampaign.org.uk/blog/28-april-fack-statement-if-you-do-not-protect-the-workforce-in-a-pandemic-you-do-not-protect-the-public

Hazards Campaign Windrush Millennium Centre 70 Alexandra Road Manchester M16 7WD

content/uploads/2018/08/thewholestory.pdf

TUC RISKs newsletter summary of Trade Union Action on IWMD 28 April
https://www..tuc.org.uk/news/risks-944-22-april-2020

Hazards Magazine Issue 149 Exposed  http://www.hazards.org/index.htm

FACK Statement for #IWMD20 http://www.hazardscampaign.org.uk/blog/28-april-fack-statement-if-you-do-not-protect-the-workforce-in-a-pandemic-you-do-not-protect-the-public

Hazards Campaign Windrush Millennium Centre 70 Alexandra Road Manchester M16 7WD

28 April: Hazards Campaign call to action

Workers’ Memorial Day 2020

Normal public events for April 28th won’t be possible because of measures to contain Coronavirus/Covid-19. But marking International Workers’ Memorial Day has never been more important for workers’ lives and health and those of our families and communities.

Some workplace events may still go ahead but we are taking #IWMD20 online, developing a social media campaign that we want everyone to join in. This will keep the day and its perennial aims on the public and political agenda with the twin slogans to ‘Remember the Dead and Fight for the Living’. This year’s international theme has been changed by ITUC to ‘Stop the Pandemic at work’.

The Hazards Campaign is going ahead with: ‘Unions fighting for hearts and minds’ incorporating the fight against Coronavirus.

Hazards Campaign – Final briefing and call to action document

  1. WINDOW DISPLAYS Put up a Heartbroken poster – order or print one off- make a window display! See below.
  2. POST SELFIES Post a selfie with Heartbroken poster, or your window poster display, add a message, post on social media #IWMD20 or send to us
  3. ORGANISE A MEETING Organise a meeting – on-line or in the workplace if it can be done safely.
  4. USE OUR FIGURES NOT HSE’S Use ‘The Whole Story’ on death caused by work not HSE partial statistics [Updated April 2020]
  5. MAPPING ACTION Mapping #IWMD20: tell us what you are doing and about workers memorials near you and we will map them.
  6. CAMPAIGN ON SOCIAL MEDIA Create a huge wave of #IWMD20 tweets and posts on social media – download sample graphics here
  7. HAZARDS FILM Watch and send out the Hazards Campaign Film for #IWMD20 ‘Fighting for Hearts and Minds – forthcoming.
  8. LIGHT A CANDLE Light a candle in the window on 28th at 9pm to remember all workers killed by #COVID and other work hazards – but be safe.
  9. MEMORIALS ONLINE Online memorials—post photos and details of those killed at and by work to us or direct to Twitter and Facebook.
  10. GLOBAL SOLIDARITY Use the #IWMD20 for national and international solidarity with our union colleagues all across the world. And check out the ITUC/Hazards magazine global hub for international activities.

Resources to print out for your window display 

Hazards Campaign: 28 April social media campaigning graphics

As a part of our International Workers’ Memorial Day 2020 call to action the Hazards Campaign has produced a series of social media graphics (below) for you to share in your networks. Flood Twitter, Facebook  and the other social networks with these images and remember to include the hashtag #iwmd20, #covid19 and @hazardscampaign

Sample graphics scaled for Facebook

 

Sample graphics scaled for Twitter