Category Archives: media

Hazards Campaign reply to HSE: Our Covid 19 concerns remain unanswered

Health and Safety Executive
HSE Head of Strategy, Media and Campaign
Redgrave Court,
Merton Road, Bootle,
Merseyside
L20 8HS

2/4/20

Dear Jason,

Thank you for your response to my letter on behalf of the Hazards Campaign dated 30.3.20.

I am encouraged that you state ‘HSE will consider a range of actions to improve control of workplace risks’, ranging from the provision of specific advice to employers through to issuing enforcement notices’.

However, our concern about ‘non-essential’ organisations which are still working and unable to comply with social distancing remains unanswered.  Surely the risks associated with this far outweighs the ‘indeed it is important for business to carry on’ message in your ‘Social distancing, keeping businesses open and in-work activities during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak’ document?

In addition, many of the organisations which struggle to comply with social distancing also fail to comply with enhanced cleaning of tools and equipment, personal welfare facilities and even in offices, warehouses and manufacturing there is a lack of appreciation about the spread of the virus.

This seems to be in direct conflict with the government Public Health Guidance for trying to control the spread of COVID-19, and with the HSE’s Mission statement – HSE’s mission is to prevent death, injury and ill-health in Great Britain’s workplaces.

The government document says that if a ‘member of staff has helped someone who was taken unwell with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature, they do not need to go home unless they develop symptoms themselves’ and that the advice is for them ‘wash their hands’.  This is totally ridiculous, will continue the spread of the virus, put more workers at risk and again appears to be in conflict with government Public Health Guidance about self-isolating to reduce risk of transmission of COVID-19.

As previously stated, we continue to receive reports from workers – those who have insufficient PPE, are not trained in the use of the PPE or have the incorrect PPE in essential and non-essential work.  This can be the difference between being protected from a deadly virus or not and therefore there needs to be greater emphasis on the importance of PPE – its specification for different jobs and risks, and the quantity required to fully protect workers.

The HSE document ‘Research: review of personal protective equipment provided in health care settings to manage risk during coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19) is contradictory at best.  Surely if FFP3 respirators are required, FFP2 respirators will be inadequate for AGP work with known or suspected patients, when exposure to high viral load is great, or at the very least should only be used only for a short period of time with strict guidance?  And what evidence is being collected about ‘passed a face fit test’ and when will this be audited.  We would also say that eye protection is essential in all settings, where workers have to be closer than the minimum guidelines of 2m.

There has got to be a recognition that many of the workers who will have the most concerns, will be in workplaces where they are on precarious contracts and not in a trade union organised and supported workplace.  In these workplaces it will be impossible for them to resolve issues ‘through speaking with their employer or trade union’ first.  They risk losing their jobs.  There must be an alternative approach available.  The HSE helpline or an alternative option must be available for worried exposed workers.

We welcome your statement about looking to provide a ‘clear message about what you expect employers to do in the current situation’ and that must include reviewing and assessing the risks of the job, controlling them effectively and the consequences to workers health if they fail to do this.  When deciding on control measures where possible, this must include the option of work being carried out at home and providing workers with the equipment and tools to do it.  After also consulting with safety reps.

We conclude:

  • If the work cannot be carried out safely within the public health rules, then it should stop. No-one should be being placed at risk in non-essential workplaces and the HSE must be able to close down unsafe workplaces to protect workers, their families and the wider public health.
  • There must be a recognition that vulnerable workers need to be able to contact the HSE regardless of having reported it to their employer first.
  • In critical essential employment, workers must have the appropriate PPE, in adequate supplies, necessary to keep them safe and healthy and if not, they must be able to stop work until it is available.

We recognise these are unprecedented times, but all the risks workers are facing, are foreseeable and preventable and we believe it is the HSE’s duty, more than ever in such times, to ‘prevent death, injury and ill-health in Great Britain’s workplaces’ by taking a far more proactive role.

With best wishes

Janet Newsham
On behalf of Hazards Campaign
Chair of Hazards Campaign/ Coordinator of GMHC

Covid-19: Hazards Campaign – Request for action from HSE

Letter to the HSE

Martin Temple Chair of HSE Board and Sarah Albon CEO
Health and Safety Executive
Redgrave Court
Merton Road
Bootle
Merseyside
L20 7HS
30 March 2020

Dear Martin Temple, Sarah Albon,

We are weeks into the COVID19 pandemic and reports continue to arrive in our inbox of workers being exposed to unnecessary risks. This includes being left without any protection or controls of exposure to this dangerous virus. The messages from the Government have been confused at best and ignorant of the reality of working practices to the point of negligence to individual workers:

  • Stay at home
    • Only go outside for food, health reasons or work (but only if you cannot work from home)
    • If you go out, stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people at all times
    • Wash your hands as soon as you get home
    • Do not meet others, even friends or family.
    • You can spread the virus even if you don’t have symptoms.
    https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
  • When am I allowed to leave the house?
    o You should only leave the house for very limited purposes:
    o shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible
    o one form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your household
    o any medical need, including to donate blood, avoid or escape risk of injury or harm, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person
    o travelling for work purposes, but only where you cannot work from home• Should I stay at home or go to work?
    o You may travel for work purposes, but only where you cannot work from home.
    o Certain jobs require people to travel to their place of work – for instance if they operate machinery, work in construction or manufacturing, or are delivering front line services such as train and bus drivers.
    o Employers and employees should discuss their working arrangements, and employers should take every possible step to facilitate their employees working from home, including providing suitable IT and equipment to enable remote working.• I’m not a critical worker and I can’t work from home. What should I do?
    o If you cannot work from home then you can still travel to work. This is consistent with the Chief Medical Officer’s advice.
    o Critical workers are those who can still take their children to school or childcare. This critical worker definition does not affect whether or not you can travel to work – if you are not a critical worker, you may still travel to work provided you cannot work from home.
    o Anyone who has symptoms or is in a household where someone has symptoms should not go to work and should self-isolate.

    How can I find out if my work is essential or not?
    o The government is not saying only people doing “essential” work can go to work. Anyone who cannot work from home can still go to work.
    o Separately, there is a list of critical workers who can still take their children to school or childcare. Provision has been prioritised for these workers.
    o Every worker – whether critical or not – should work from home if they can but may otherwise travel to work.
    o We have also asked certain businesses where people gather, such as pubs and most shops, to close. Separate guidance has been published on this.

    Can I see my friends?
    o We must all stay away from each other to stop spreading the virus, and that means you should not be meeting friends unless you live in the same household.
    o Instead, you could keep in touch with your friends using phone or video calls.

    My boss is forcing me to go to work but I’m scared of coronavirus. What should I do?
    o Employers must make all efforts to help people to work from home where possible, as this will help limit the spread of the virus by reducing the amount of contact between people.
    o In some circumstances this may be impossible – this would apply to those working for a business or organisation that we have not asked to close and requires them to travel and be at work, such as train or bus drivers, construction workers, restaurant workers handling deliveries or those on the frontline like NHS workers.
    o For these workers who need to be at work, do not have symptoms or live with anyone who has symptoms, and are not vulnerable people, we have outlined clear guidance for employers to help protect workers.

    I can’t go to work because I need to look after my child, but my boss is threatening to sack me if I don’t. What should I do?
    o We would urge employers to take socially responsible decisions and listen to the concerns of their workforce – particularly when they have childcare responsibilities.
    o Employers and employees should come to an agreement about these arrangements.
    o If individuals need advice they should approach ACAS where they can get impartial advice about in-work disputes.

    What will happen to me if I break the rules?
    o We appreciate all the effort people are putting into containing the spread of coronavirus which will help protect our NHS and save lives.
    o However, if you leave your home or gather in public for any reason other than those specified, the police may:
    o instruct you to go home, leave an area or disperse
    o instruct you to take steps to stop your children breaking these rules if they have already done so
    o take you home – or arrest you – if you do not follow their instructions or where they deem it necessary
    o issue a fine (fixed penalty notice) of £60, which will be lowered to £30 if paid within 14 days.
    o issue a fine (fixed penalty notice) of £120 for second time offenders, doubling on each further repeat offence
    o Individuals who do not pay their fine could be taken to court, with magistrates able to impose unlimited fines.
    https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-outbreak-faqs-what-you-can-and-cant-do/coronavirus-outbreak-faqs-what-you-can-and-cant-do

     

  • Employers who have people in their offices or onsite should ensure that employees are able to follow Public Health England guidelines including, where possible, maintaining a 2 metre distance from others, and washing their hands with soap and water often, for at least 20 seconds (or using hand sanitiser gel if soap and water is not available).
    https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close-guidance

But it is impossible to keep safe distance apart in some workplaces and on some jobs. An example of this are the thousands of construction workers on non-essential projects who are still working. Reducing the spread of Covid -19 is not just about social/physical distancing but about touch. Most work which cannot be done at home – 2/3 of workers are unable to work at home – in manufacturing, construction and warehousing for example, involves a lot of touching and handling of materials. In many there will be touch pad security systems, touched by all workers and uncleaned between. In most workplaces complying with the hand washing, cleaning surfaces and materials guidance will be completely impossible and thus breaches the general duty in S2 of Health and Safety at Work Act.

In our opinion those workplaces which are non-essential at this time and cannot guarantee the safety and health of their workers or the public they travel amongst on their way to and from work, or the families they go home to , and should be suspending operations, if the spread of the virus is to be slowed down. This is the only social distancing that will work. The law now potentially allows workers travelling to non-essential work to be stopped and fined, but does not seem to allow unsafe non-essential workplaces to be closed.

The Government has laid out which agencies who will monitor and enforce the new regulations which support their Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations 2020 and further advice has been issued:

5. Compliance
Everyone is instructed to comply with the rules issued by the government in relation to coronavirus, in order to protect both themselves and others.

As of 1pm on 26 March 2020 new Regulations extending the restrictions are now enforceable by law in England due to the threat to public health. These supersede Regulations that came into force at 2pm on 21 March 2020. They are enforceable in Wales from 4pm on 26 March 2020 and Scotland from 7.15pm on 26 March 2020.

Where an owner, proprietor or manager carrying out a business (or a person responsible for other premises) contravenes the Regulations, that person commits an offence.

In England, Environmental Health and Trading Standards officers will monitor compliance with these regulations, with police support provided if appropriate. Businesses and venues that breach them will be subject to prohibition notices, and fixed penalties. With the support of the police, prohibition notices can be used to require compliance with the Regulations including requiring that an activity ceases.

If prohibition notices are not followed, or fixed penalty notice not paid, you may also be taken to court with magistrates able to impose potentially unlimited fines.
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close-guidance

Although this says Environmental Health, Trading Standards and Police will monitor compliance with these regulations this only applies to those workplaces specifically closed down by government regulations. It does not apply to construction, manufacturing and other non-essential work not listed. But this does not negate the responsibility of the HSE and LA Health and Safety Inspectors to continue to regulate and enforce Health and Safety Regulations in all workplaces both essential and non-essential workplaces. And in this case it will be around PPE – provision, appropriateness and quantity -, managing risks and introducing safe systems of work and control measures.

If the HSE and LA health and safety officers do not act, employers will continue to take advantage and place their workers at risk. Trade Unions are continuing to highlight many examples of bad employment practices and negligent employers and through collective action have forced employers to improve their practices, but we still need the enforcement bodies to act as well.
Workers are justifiably feeling abandoned, anxious and their physical and mental health is deteriorating leaving them more likely to be at risk from contracting the virus.

Please will you tell us what action the HSE is taking to protect workers in this unprecedented situation, so that we can pass this on to the thousands of workers currently feeling abandoned and unnecessarily exposed to life threatening risks. We specifically want to know what action the HSE is taking to:

1. Remind all employers in essential and non-essential workplaces that workers health and safety is paramount at all times, that normal health and safety duties and regulations apply and that #Covid19 means extra risks must be assessed and prevented in usual way – by elimination, collective control and appropriate and sufficient PPE as last resort.

2. Issue strong warnings to employers to review all Risk Assessments for the new Covid 19 risk and to introduce safe systems of work to protect workers.

3. Advise employers that if suitable and sufficient Risk Assessments show the risk of exposure to COVID19 cannot be reasonable prevented they must stop work.

4. Provide workers with information about risks to their health and what their employers should be doing. Closure of HSE Infoline in2011 has left workers without a lifeline and employers without advice. Surely at this time with inspectors working from home, the HSE helpline could be reintroduced to support these workers?

5. Respond to the ‘Report a Concern’ online form by next day with enforcement action to support workers health against employers who are breaching health and safety regulations. Will you accept photographic evidence available which is date stamped? This could be used to instruct employers to either improve the situation in workplaces or face Prohibition and Improvement Notices.

6. Enforce strongly the need for appropriate PPE in sufficient quantities to protect the health of all NHS, Care and other health and essential workers who are at greatest risk of exposure to Covid19.

We look forward to your speedy response as we need to advise workers now on what HSE is doing to protect them and by extension all of society.

Yours sincerely,

Janet Newsham
On behalf of the Hazards Campaign
Chair of Hazards Campaign / Coordinator of GMHC

c/o GMHC
Windrush Millennium Centre,
70 Alexandra Rd,
Manchester M16 7WD
janet@gmhazards.org.uk
Tel: 07734 317158

Hazards Campaign Covid-19 briefing: Minimum conditions for worker safety

What is your employer doing during the current crisis over COVID-19 pandemic to support workers and the community? 

Decent work shouldn’t become indecent even when there is a crisis. It can be challenging and there are a number of issues/conditions that workers should be negotiating with management to ensure that the health and safety of staff and others who may be affected by work activities is paramount. This includes the pay, terms and conditions on which they are employed. In addition, it will be necessary to enhance or protect existing pay and conditions to protect other staff and communities. If you have any examples of good practice, please send them to mail@gmhazards.org.uk so that we can circulate them. Read the full briefing

Workers lives and health is at risk as watchdog budgets are halved

The Hazards Campaign has signed this letter about the UK’s collapse of enforcement and checking on employers and  manufacturers.  We support Unchecked UK because we want the hard fought for and won protective laws intended to keep us safe  at work,  at home, in the environment and community, when eating drinking and breathing, and when using products and services, to be properly enforced.

Since 2010 Coalition and Tory governments have indulged in an orgy of slashing the enforcement budgets of the HSE and Local Authority watchdogs and extracting their teeth.

The system intended to protect workers’ lives and health in the UK is essentially broken, workers are harmed daily, and those most at risk now have no reasonable prospect of enforcement of their basic human right to safe and healthy work. Employers cannot be trusted. UK Governments have slashed workers’ lifeline and left an increasing trail of injuries, ill-health and death from despair at the brutish working conditions employers provide when no-one is checking on them.

The system intended to protect workers’ lives and health in the UK is essentially broken. Workers are harmed daily, and those most at risk now have no reasonable prospect of enforcement of their basic human right to safe and healthy work.

Employers cannot be trusted to comply with even the most basic health and safety law.. UK Governments have slashed workers’ lifeline and left an increasing trail of injuries, ill-health and death from despair at the brutish working conditions employers provide when no-one is checking on them.

Unchecked news release, letter to The Times and briefing, The UK’s enforcement gap, 20 August 2019. The Times. Hazards Campaign manifesto.

United Kingdom: FACK statement on International Workers’ Memorial Day

Workplace victim support and campaign group Families Against Corporate Killers (FACK) has issued a statement to mark International Workers’ Memorial Day 28 April 2019.

Selected quotes:

“When someone dies in a work-related incident, it’s not something that happened to a family. It is something that continues to happen. Not just for weeks or months. But for years…decades…maybe even generations.”

“Ensure the lessons to be learned from their deaths are taught over and over so that the greatest legacy of all can be built for this and future generations, a world of work that is safer and healthier: life-giving, not life-ending.”

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

A manifesto for a health and safety system fit for workers: Decent jobs and decent lives

NEWS RELEASE 9th January 2019 for immediate use

Hazards Campaign launches Manifesto for a health and safety system fit for workers: Decent jobs and decent lives

The Hazards Campaign believes the British health and safety system is broken. Workers are harmed daily just for going to work to earn a living, and many now have no realistic prospect of enforcement of their basic human right to go to work and come home alive and well.

Work contributes to a huge amount of public ill-health, to health inequality, lower life expectancy, less years of healthy life kills over 50,000 people in the UK each year, makes millions ill, injures over half a million and the quality of jobs contributes to poverty and ill-health.  But all of this is preventable with the right framework of strong laws, strict enforcement and support for active worker and union participation will have massive payback for workers, employers and whole economy.  The current political situation has given us an opportunity to place health and safety firmly back on the political agenda,” says the campaign’s Janet Newsham.  “An opportunity to address our concerns, to discuss what we want from regulation, enforcement, to support trade union safety reps and how workers should be treated with more dignity and be able to organise and respond collectively.”

“We are launching our Manifesto for health and safety fit for workers, decent jobs and decent lives for all with three clear demands on the current and future governments. To ensure decent jobs and lives for all, and to fix the broken health and safety system, government must by do three key things:

  1. End deregulation and restore regulation and enforcement as a social good
  2. Develop a health and safety system based on prevention, precaution and participation of strong active unions.
  3. Provide real, enforceable employment and safety rights to ensure good health and safety in low paid and precarious work by enforcement agencies working together.

“The Manifesto is a clear guide to action that must be taken to protect all workers by restoring good regulation and enforcement, revamping the independence, funding and action of the HSE and Local Authority enforcement agencies, empowering trade unions and safety reps who have the biggest impact on making work safer and healthier, and ensuring links between health and safety and employment inspections to deal with the exploitation of workers in the low paid, precarious economy.

“The Manifesto sets out in detail what must be done to achieve this.  After Grenfell no-one can be in any doubt as to the deadly dangers of deregulation and it must be halted and reversed.  Developing a health and safety system based on prevention, precaution and participation of strong active unions includes the organising demands of  the updated Hazards Campaign charter and extends it. The link between precarious low paid work and poor health and safety must be acknowledged as a huge risk for workers’ lives and health must be addressed through enforcement of health and safety and employment issues.”

“We call for increased enforcement with more resources, and more, more accessible inspectors, employment rights with collective representation from day one on the job, and an end to zero hours, precarious work. An end to all the lying, dishonest, unevidenced rhetoric  used to justify the deregulation of health and safety.

“We want the purpose and mission of HSE to be one sole aim – to prevent injury, ill-health and death caused by work, no constraints of having to consider business interests, and to use its teeth to enforce that strictly and be effective and active in the new precarious 21st Century workplace.  The HSE must be made a real champion of workers’ lives and health and the whole health and safety system a proactive, preventive, precautionary, workers’ participatory project with ambitious aims to make work safer and healthier.”

“We want workers to be given much greater control over the circumstances under which they work and rights from day one. Give workers and union safety reps more power to take action in the workplace by abolishing all anti-trade union legislation, enforcing the Safety Representatives and Safety Committee Regulations and extending and enhancing them with, for example,  the right to stop the job.”

Janet added “We want the current government to take heed of where they have gone wrong, how deadly deregulation must end now, and to use our Manifesto to fix the broken system.  If they won’t  do this,  they must explain why.  We want other political parties to adopt the Manifesto and set out their plans to make this happen ready for the next General Election.  We want trade unions to adopt it, support it and campaign with us to make a health and safety system fit for all workers, for decent jobs and decent lives for all

For more information contact  Janet Newsham and Hilda Palmer, Hazards Campaign Secretariat c/o Greater Manchester Hazards Centre  0161 636 7557/8 info@hazardscampaign.org.uk

The Hazards Campaign, established in 1987, is a network of worker oriented health and safety centres, individual activists &  groups working with workers, trade union safety reps, families & communities on all aspects of work-related safety & ill-health. It includes the Scottish Hazards Campaign, Greater Manchester & London Hazards Centres, the Asbestos Victims Support Groups, Construction Safety Campaign, Families Against Corporate Killers, trade unions safety reps and specialists and award-winning Hazards Magazine.  The Hazards Campaign brought International Workers Memorial Day to the UK in the 1990s, and runs the annual Hazards Conference , attracting  350 – 400 safety reps. The 9th Hazards Conference, Hazards  2018,  was held 27-29th July at Keele University with 350 union safety reps and activists participating #Haz2018

CONTACT Hazards Campaign Secretariat c/o GMHC,  Windrush Millennium Centre, 70 Alexandra Road, Manchester     M16 7WD  email:    Tel: 0161 636 7557

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