Category Archives: media

FACK criticises HSE on Glasgow bin tragedy

FACK news release  
FACK questions the HSE’s decision not to investigate Glasgow bin lorry crash as work-related – given the Judicial Review quashing of a similar wrong HSE decision in 2000.

The Health and Safety Executive’s decision not to investigate the Glasgow bin lorry crash as a work–related incident, and to treat it as just a ‘road traffic accident’ was severely questioned in the FAI yesterday:  ‘A safety inspector has denied that a decision to treat the Glasgow bin lorry crash as a road traffic accident was “hasty and ill advised”’ (1)

Continue reading FACK criticises HSE on Glasgow bin tragedy

Some justice won for Cameron Minshull, 16

FACK news release  
Some justice won for  Cameron Minshull, 16 year old apprentice, killed at work 8 January 2013

Today, Tuesday 14th July, the companies and individuals responsible for the death on 8th January 2013 of 16 year old Cameron Minshull,  on a government approved apprenticeship, were sentenced by Judge Stockdale at Manchester Crown Court..

On the day he died at Huntley Mount Engineering, Cameron was killed doing an extremely dangerous  procedure – deburring and polishing by hand – that was unnecessary but exposed him to work on a CNC lathe with the safety mechanisms overridden, with his hands close to parts revolving at 700+ revolutions per minute, with the obvious risk of catastrophic injury or death. The judge made it clear that in no way at all was Cameron responsible for his death but that this responsibility lay at the door of Huntley Mount Engineering and the Hussains plus Lime People Training Solutions.  Continue reading Some justice won for Cameron Minshull, 16

Our alternative to Tories’ deadly safety plan

The Hazards Campaign has published a plan for the first 100 days of the new government  It’s time to step up and act up for health and safety.

Hilda Palmer, Hazards Campaign spokesperson said: “Work is getting more unhealthy and workers and the country are paying a very heavy price for work-related illness, injury and death. Workers won’t vote to die at work so the Hazards Campaign wants to know from all political parties:  ‘Hey! Whotcha gonna do?’  On May 8th the new government could immediately start to make workplaces healthier, safer and better for all if it adopted our plan. So who is going to adopt it? Workers  won’t vote to die at work.

“Business as usual for the next 5 years is not an option for workers lives and health. Work shouldn’t hurt and it certainly shouldn’t kill, but in 2015 it still does (2). Over the last five years some have seen work become hell, for most it has become more unhealthy, and for many it is deadly due to the great deregulation lie causing a retreat from the law, enforcement, prevention and protection.  Damaging workers’ health and lives is an unacceptable price to pay and it also costs taxpayers and the economy between £30 and 60 billion a year.  Employers’ criminal non-compliance with health and safety law is a tax on us all.

“On day one the new government could begin preventing this harm and start the move to making work better by implementing our plan and returning to evidence-based policies.  We set out ten steps for government and three for workers and unions safety reps.

“First of all the new government must bury the ‘burdens on business’ lie, be explicit that the mismanagement that hurts the workforce also hurts the economy. It must put a stop to the erosion of health and safety laws, and instigate a programme of inspections to protect workers from unscrupulous employers and keep workers healthy.

“The HSE needs to get real and step up and act up as it currently fails to act on almost all of the ill-health issues caused by modern work. HSE has taken no prosecutions on stress, the single biggest cause of work-related ill-health, and is not clamping down on cancer risks or removing toxins from work.   Our plan says the main aim of the HSE should be the protection of workers not the profits or the interests of those who would harm them. The HSE’s aim should be to make work better and to stand up to government when it’s wrong.

“HSE must get the count right by counting all workers killed at, and by, work, including suicides, road, air and sea deaths; all work-cancers, heart attacks, strokes and fatal lung disease deaths. Acting to protect workers and safety reps in badly managed workplaces means giving them more enforceable rights, and then enforcing them.

“Government policies over the past 5 years based on ideology not evidence have thrown workers to the wolves of a deregulated, unenforced marketplace. Vulnerable migrant, temporary and low paid workers have suffered the most, are at most risk and least protected (3) so the new government must reinstate the powers of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority and extend its remit to all sectors where temporary workers are exploited.

“The iceberg of workplace harm is work-related ill-health.  Our plan calls for sorting this out by creating worker-oriented occupational health services within the NHS focusing on prevention, support for sick and injured workers, treatment and rehabilitation. This will replace punitive sickness absence management and government hounding by outsourced ‘Welfare’ and  ‘Fit for Work’ agencies which focus only on forcing the sick and injured back to work, recovered or not.

“Our plan also calls for fair, just compensation not the dysfunctional Industrial Injuries Disability Benefits scheme (4) or slashed legal aid for personal injury cases. Whistleblowers, such as workers on the Crossrail project who have been sacked for raising health and safety issues, should be protected, and fees for Employment tribunals removed.

“We also call on workers not to sit around waiting but to get involved, become safety reps, for existing safety reps and workers to be more active at work, to build union organisation which makes work safer and healthier. Join your union and the Hazards Campaign in campaigning for a government and policies which will protect our lives and health and those of our children and grandchildren.
Work shouldn’t kill or hurt, it’s time to reject the deregulation lie,  we won’t vote to die at work.”

More information: Hilda Palmer Acting Chair of National Hazards Campaign tel: 0161 636 7557, cell phone: 079298 00240

Notes for editors

1.Hazards Campaign 13 – step election guide : “It’s time to step up and act up for workers health and safety: Hey! Whatcha gonna do?”  http://www.hazards.org/votetodie/stepup

2. Hazards Magazine and ITUC International Workers Memorial Day Poster ‘Hell No!’http://www.hazards.org/gallery/hellno.htm and TUC and Hazards Magazine Poster ‘Stand up for safety and stop the tears’

3. Hazards Magazine 128 ‘Low Blow:  Badly paid work guarantees more than hardship. Because low pay goes hand in hand with low health and safety standards, occupational injuries and diseases like diabetes and cancer frequently come with the job.’ http://www.hazards.org/workingworld/lowblow.htm

4. Hazards Magazine 129:  ‘Mean Test:  For 7 of top 10 entries on official UK occupational cancer priorities ranking, you can forget about government payouts.’  http://hazards.org/compensation/meantest
and ‘Robbed, Bloody bandages but no bloody compensation’  http://www.hazards.org/votetodie/robbed.htm

Fatalities at work down, work-related deaths up

The number of workplace fatalities in Britain last year fell to the lowest annual rate on record, but the Hazards Campaign is warning that work-related deaths overall increased markedly as asbestos cancer deaths soared. Continue reading Fatalities at work down, work-related deaths up

Triennial review giving HSE the thumbs up is rejected by government

Triennial review giving HSE the thumbs up is rejected by government planning to exterminate the protection of hard-working workers by commercialisation!

The Hazards Campaign mostly welcomes HSE Triennial Review Report but condemns the government’s demented Dalek   cries of ‘Deregulate, Privatise, Commercialise’ which is their only discredited answer to everything, and risks exterminating the public protection of workers’ health and safety.

Hazards Campaign spokesperson said “We utterly condemn the DWP minister’s response as irrational, pre-conceived, market-driven ideological claptrap, unsupported by any evidence, fact or need, and likely to increase the risk of death, injury and illness at work of those hard-working people the government is so fond of pretending to support.

Martin Temple’s independent report (1) concludes unequivocally that HSE’s functions are still necessary, that the HSE as a non-departmental body (NDPB) is the best way to execute them, and that broadly it does this well.  Temple, supported by a tripartite advisory panel, led a review of the facts and evidence, including responses to the consultation document and meetings with knowledgeable people and organisations such as the Hazards Campaign and Families Against Corporate Killers.

Mike Penning, the Minster for Disabled People at the DWP (2) while accepting the report’s conclusions, then rejects it’s considered findings: ‘I welcome these recommendations, but want to go further to introduce reforms of HSE to ensure that it delivers value for money to the taxpayer, whilst ensuring safety for the nation. There is considerable potential for HSE to become more commercial in outlook and in delivery – increasing the pace of the work already started within the organisation. ‘
Hazards Campaign spokesperson added:  “We welcome the report’s confirmation that the functions of the HSE are necessary and in general it is best body to carry them out.  And we utterly condemn as lacking any credibility, the minister’s dismissal of his own government-commissioned, independent review process because it didn’t rubber stamp the ideological market-led result the government wanted.  Any evidence that refutes the government’s sick fantasy approach to workers’ lives and health – the lie that it’s a terrible ’burden on business’ – gets the irrational demented Dalek mantra of: ‘ Deregulate, Privatise and Commercialise’ (3) and threats to exterminate the HSE as we know it.

“The HSE wasn’t completely broken before, but it may be now.  This looks like the government trying to abolish the HSE as it originally wanted to do in 2010, and has continued to undermine it by review after pointless review (4)- and by the daily rubbishing of HSE’s work,  and the very notion that regulation and enforcement are necessary to ensure employers protect workers.

“The problem for workers is getting employers to comply with health and safety law at all, which has been made far harder by government pulling out the HSE watchdog’s teeth since 2010.  The problem for the tax-payer is that employers’ mismanagement of health and safety at work is costing well over £40 billion a year by the most conservative of estimates (5).  Mike Penning’s proposals to further commercialise what’s left of workers’ protection answers neither of those problems.  It will put hard-working workers at even greater risk of being hurt by their employers with even less HSE intervention.  It will cost individuals their lives, their health and their livelihoods, and it will reduce the value of the HSE to tax payers by shifting even more costs of cleaning up employers’ negligence onto the public purse.

“The Hazards Campaign does not agree with all the report’s recommendations some of which seem confused and at odds with the body of the report, especially on the composition of the HSE Board and on increasing commercialisation.  However, support for tripartism, for prevention of occupational ill-health rather than individualistic well-being nonsense, criticism of FFI, rejection of privatisation, and some consideration of the cost of poor management of health and safety by employers is welcome.  We would have liked a proper evaluation of the true, full cost of employers’ poor management of health and safety and the savings in lives, health and money which would be made by investing in the HSE and a strict enforcement and regulation regime.  The massive benefits to public health and to society this could produce would pay for the HSE many times over in the prevention of work-related deaths, injuries and illness, and make workers safer and healthier (6).

“Mike Penning’s statement shows the government cares not a jot for the health and safety of hard working workers, or for the burdens on tax-payers, but instead is about rewarding its business paymasters with even less scrutiny.  Workers and public beware: the HSE wasn’t completely broken by the government before, but it may be now””

For more information contact The UK National Hazards Campaign:  0161 636 7557

Notes

1.       https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/triennial-review-report-health-and-safety-executive-2014
2.       WRITTEN MINISTERIAL STATEMENT Thursday 9 January 2014 THE DEPARTMENT FOR WORK AND PENSIONS    Triennial Review of the Health and Safety Executive

The Minister for Disabled People (Mike Penning MP): On 25 April 2013 the Minister for Employment made a written statement to Parliament announcing the Triennial Review of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and that Martin Temple, Chair of the EEF would lead that review. I am pleased to announce the conclusion of the Review and publication of Mr Temple’s report later today.

HSE is an Executive Non-Departmental Public Body (NDPB).  It is the national, independent regulator for work-related safety and health.  Its mission is the prevention of death, injury and ill health to those at work and those affected by work activities.

The review has concluded that the functions performed by HSE are still required and that it should be retained as a NDPB. Mr Temple has recommended that HSE build on its well-deserved international reputation and makes more progress to grow its commercial income.

I welcome these recommendations, but want to go further to introduce reforms of HSE to ensure that it delivers value for money to the taxpayer, whilst ensuring safety for the nation. There is considerable potential for HSE to become more commercial in outlook and in delivery – increasing the pace of the work already started within the organisation.

Therefore, I have asked HSE to begin work immediately to examine commercial models for HSE in collaboration with HMT and Cabinet office, and to review the HSE Board to ensure it has the right skills to oversee future efficiencies and commercial income generating options.  Some of the other recommendations require further consideration and therefore the Government will respond more fully later this year.

I will place a copy of the report of the Triennial Review of HSE in the House library later today.

3.       Hazards Magazine Business  says Deregulate: the government will obey

4.         Lord Young Review,  Red Tape Reviews,  Professor Lofstedt Review

5.        Good health and safety is not a ‘burden on business’ it’s a burden on us! The cost of the harm caused by poor workplace health and safety

The HSE records the costs of poor health and safety i.e. deaths, injuries and illnesses (over 70% caused by poor management according to the HSE) as £13.8 billion per year at 2010/11 prices. But this does not include the long latency illnesses like cancers.  Each incident fatality costs £1.5 million and each occupational cancer costs over £2.5 million (DEFRA costing). So, even taking HSE’s gross under-estimate of 8,000 work cancer deaths per year would add £20 billion to this total making it nearer £40 billion per year.  Taking Hazards figures would make it nearer £60 billion.  Of this cost, according to the HSE:  individuals and families pay 57%, the state – us, tax payers, the public purse! – pays 22%, and employers, whose criminal negligence caused the harm, pay 21% HSE Annual Statistics Report 2012/13: http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/overall/hssh1213.pdf
6.      Hazards maagazine blueprint for saner Health and Safety Executive Plus interview with Rory O’Neill, Hazards Magazine Editor,  by Health and Safety Bulletin:

Business Daleks say: Deregulate! Deregulate! Deregulate! Hazards Campaign says: “Regulate, Regulate, Regulate!

Hazards Campaign says: “Regulate, Regulate, Regulate! We love red tape and we want a health and safety system with workers at its centre that’s good for all!”

Like a bunch of demented Daleks, six business leaders are rolled out to repeat the same ludicrous robotic mantra: ‘Deregulate, Deregulate, Deregulate!’ in the ’Cut EU red tape’ report released yesterday (1).  Similarly to previous reports attacking workplace health and safety, it is not based on evidence but is part of the government’s ideological drive to leave business free to do what it wants and to hell with workers’ health and lives.

It’s not new, or surprising and certainly not clever, but it is utterly amazing that anyone treats these unevidenced attacks as credible!  Regulations developed over years to protect the safety and the short and long term health of workers, are not pointless meaningless bureaucracy to be derided and ridiculed.  Every report of workers killed in Asian garment and other factory fires and the Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh, graphically illustrates the consequences of a lack of good health and safety regulation and enforcement in case anyone has forgotten what it used to be like here.

The report talks ignorantly of ‘low risk’ workplaces where in fact occupational ill health is rife – slips trips and falls, violence, musculo-skeletal disorders and stress are at epidemic levels- and 53% of the HSE reported work-deaths occur in this so called low risk sector.  The Report claims deregulation is necessary for us to compete, presumably with Asian countries or the Britain of the last two centuries, with the consequent appalling workplace death rates?

Regulations that protect workers and members of the public from danger are an essential part of a civilised society and when they fail, as they are doing under government policies, people die from, for example increased Legionnaire’s disease outbreaks, horse meat turns up in our food, and workers are killed in incidents or made sick to death by uncontrolled risks.  Relaxing the requirements on employers taking on young people may lead to more tragedies as in the case of 16 year old Cameron Minshull, killed by an industrial lathe in Bury this year when his Mum felt sure he was safe at work, on a government approved apprenticeship (2).

The real burden of current employers’ poor management of health and safety falls mainly on those harmed but it also costs a staggering over £30 billion per year (3). Even more staggering is that employers pay less than a quarter of the cost of the harm they cause.  So the real problem at work is not too much red tape but too many bloody bandages (4). Government should be investing in the health of workers and protecting us, focusing on creating good jobs, as it is also good economic sense, rather than competing in the race to the bottom that deregulation causes. The Hazards Campaign, Hazards Magazine, TUC, Trade unions and many academics have repeatedly challenged the government with facts and evidence over the last 3 years. But this government is only interested in ideological ‘policy based evidence making’ and serving business interests, not workers lives and health.

The ’Cut EU red tape’ report is just another lazy, unevidenced, deadly demand by vested business interests, without consulting any representatives of those harmed by work, to legitimise bad work.

To the business leaders and government Daleks we say

“Regulate, Regulate, Regulate, we love red tape and we want a health and safety system with workers at its centre that is good for all!”

For more information contact Hilda Palmer, acting Chair of Hazards Campaign 0161 636 7557

Notes to editors
1.   https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/249969/TaskForce-report-15-October.pdf
2.    Death of Cameron Minshull, http://www.hazardscampaign.org.uk/fack/news/teendeath.htm
FACK is furious at Government release of misleading and inaccurate PR on Work Experience and Health and Safety which we fear will put children at greater risk:  http://www.hazardscampaign.org.uk/fack/news/workexperience.htm
3.    The HSE records the costs of poor health and safety i.e. deaths, injuries and illnesses (over 70% caused by poor management according to the HSE) as £13.4 billion per year, but this does not include the long latency illnesses like cancers.  Each incident fatality costs £1.5 million and each occupational cancer costs £2.5 million (DEFRA costing). So, even taking HSE’s gross under-estimate of 8,000 work cancer deaths per year would add £20 billion to this total making it nearer £40 billion per year.  Taking Hazards figures would make it nearer £60 billion.  Of this cost, according to the HSE:
·         individuals and families pay 54%,
·         the state – us, tax payers, the public purse! – pays 23%, and
·         employers, whose criminal negligence caused the harm, pay 24%
HSE Annual Statistics Report  2011/12: http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/overall/hssh1112.pdf
4.    Hazards blueprint for saner Health and Safety Executive ‘We Love Red Tape’http://www.hazards.org/votetodie/citizensane

 

Cutting health and safety laws is hurting us all, so “Stop it: You’re Killing us!”

All across this country and the world millions of people will come together on 28 April to mark International Workers Memorial Day (IWMD) at tens of thousands of events (1)

What killed 140 people a day, 6 per hour last year in Great Britain?  War? Murder?

No, WORK!

Work kills more than war every year: 2.3 million worldwide.  As Jukka Takala of the ILO said
“If terrorism took such a toll, just imagine what would be said and done?”

In Great Britain, work killed 1,400 killed in work-related incidents and up to 50,000 due to work-related illnesses- cancer, heart and lung disease in 2011/12.  Work also made over 2 million ill, injured 111,000 – 22,000 very seriously – and led to 27 million days off work.  Compare this with about 600 murders per year and 641 GB service personnel killed in Iraq and Afghanistan in 11 years (2)

Workers, their families and their unions will say on IWMD that we need more health and safety protection at work not less, as avoidable deaths every day and disasters such as the recent massive explosion of a fertilizer factory in Texas show all too tragically. “Deregulation kills, we want action not reaction” said Hazards Campaign spokesperson, adding “Any idiot can ‘learn lessons’ after a disaster, after people have been killed and lives ruined, it takes intelligent foresight and a commitment to people’s lives, to prevent work from causing harm.”

You would never guess work caused such death and misery, if all you know is what the government says and how workers safety and health is reported – as one big joke!  Almost all cases of work related death, injury and ill health are preventable, if employers obeyed the law and government and enforcement agencies made them.  But they didn’t and people were killed and families’ lives ruined. Many families now know this, but didn’t know when they sent their sons and daughters, partners and parents to work, expecting them to be safe, but they never came home.  Lack of health and safety is no joke when it happens to you. (3)

Cameron Minshull, 16, from Bury, was killed in January 2013, only weeks after starting his engineering apprenticeship. He died only days after David Cameron told business leaders in Preston that silly health and safety rules must be scrapped to allow more children to get work experience.  In fact his government has already several times reduced the rules on health and safety protection for young apprentices like Cameron Minshull, who’s mum said “I thought he was safe at work on a government apprenticeship scheme” (4)

What is the UK government doing to stop this avoidable death toll? Well not strengthening health and safety law but deregulating it; not increasing preventative inspections but banning them in workplaces where the majority of recorded deaths occur; and slashing enforcement activity to shreds!

Since 2010 government has consistently rubbished health and safety, blamed it for ‘broken Britain’, the riots, and now for the lack of jobs and economic growth! The biggest lie they have perpetuated is that good safety and health is a burden on business. NO! The burden is on us, in heart ache and also on us in terms of economic cost. The poor management of safety and health that leads to 80 per cent of deaths, injuries and illness, costs the economy over £30 billion a year (2).  Of this amount, the individuals harmed pay the largest cost, 55 per cent, the public purse pays 24 per cent, and the employers who caused the problems pay around one fifth.   Hazards added: “On IWMD, we will all be telling this government: that we didn’t vote to die at Work, so stop deregulating and slashing enforcement, it’s killing us! Whether it is hazards in your workplace, horsemeat in your beefburger or Legionnaires’ in your neighbourhood, it is becoming evident that stringent regulation is not a burden, it is a necessity” (5)

For more information contact Hilda Palmer 0161 636 7557,   mobile:  079 298 00240

International Workers’ Memorial Day 28 April resources:

1. Hazards/ITUC global country listing of IWMD events TUC listing of GB eventsNW England Listing:

2. Work-Related Statistics for 2011/12

3. Families Against Corporate Killers (FACK)  Statement on death of Cameron Minshull

4. FACK statement on International Workers’ Memorial Day 2013

5. Hazards Magazine: The high cost of neutering watchdogs

 

MPs urged to reject removal of civil liability in health and safety law

MPs urged to reject removal of civil liability in health and safety law in the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act in Common today.

“The Hazards Campaign urges MPs to follow the Lords and reject the clause inserted into the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act that removes civil liability from the Health and Safety at Work Act, when it comes back to the Commons for debate today. This clause was inserted into the Act at the last minute, by the Department of Business Industry and Skills, without any consultation or supporting evidence. It will make it far harder for workers to gain compensation to which they are entitled when through no fault of their own; they are injured or made ill by their work, as the bar of proof will be set unfeasibly high. Instead of being able to rely on breach of a statutory duty by their employer as some evidence of negligence, workers will have to prove forseeability, a tough task at a time exacerbated by cuts in legal aid.   It must also be remembered that less than 10% of workers who are injured or made ill actually receive any form of compensation, so there is no actual compensation culture, just employers’ misperception, and a bad reason to change the law.  This is not redressing the balance but penalising workers and giving unscrupulous employers free rein by removing access to justice. It is a scoundrel’s charter that will harm more workers and shift more cost to the public purse by letting bad employers get away with it.” Said a Hazards Campaign spokesperson.

The arguments for removal of civil liability from health and safety regulations are not based on evidence or reality, but according to Lofstedt Report, on ‘the belief of employers in a ‘compensation culture’ has an impact in driving over-compliance with health and safety regulations’. The government’s claim that this clause is implementing Lofstedt’s recommendation on ‘strict liability’ is also false as it covers all civil liability: In his report assessing how the Government was implementing the findings of his review, published in February 2013, Professor Lofstedt stated that the Government had gone much further than he proposed. His report said “My understanding is that the proposed amendment to the Health and Safety at Work Act reverses the current position on civil liability. This means that, unless exceptions apply, claims for compensation in relation to breaches of health and safety legislation will need to prove that the employer has been negligent. The approach being taken is more far-reaching than I anticipated in my recommendation.”

There has always been a widely accepted fair balance in health and safety regulation between different types of obligation, and the majority are qualified by reasonable practicability but including some that are strict, since the Factories Act 1937.  In fact there are very few cases where compensation cases are taken on the basis of strict liability which is why the Lofstedt report had difficulty in identifying any. It also explains why the Government has introduced an amendment that goes beyond strict liability and would, as it stands, apply to civil cases involving breaches of statutory duty under workplace regulations.

Lords calling for the removal of the clause labelled it ‘ugly’. Lord Stevenson said “The requirement to prove forseeability is a very high bar of proof for an individual injured, or killed through no fault of their own. There has been no consultation on this proposal, and what is being proposed goes further than the recommendations made in this area by Professor Lofstedt”.

Lord MacKenzie agreed adding that the changes will “ assist the unscrupulous to ignore health and safety law by reducing the chances of successful civil action. That is going to lead to more workplace injury in the future”. Lord MacKenzie also said that an injured worker is highly unlikely to know about the history of work equipment or be able to investigate whether the employer was at fault. He added that this change in the law would not only shift the balance of power dramatically against employees, but that litigation would become more costly, time consuming for everyone,  and employers would not benefit.”

For more information contact the Hilda Palmer, acting Chair of Hazards Campaign 0161 636 7557

 

 

You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone

UK National Hazards Campaign warns that you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone as Cameron obeys business buddies in race to slash red tape that puts everyone at risk!

Hazards Campaign spokesperson said today:  “Cameron is blindly following the demented business daleks demanding ‘deregulate, deregulate, deregulate’ (1).  Supporting their friends in the FSB who believe that the USA is a better business model is hardly reassuring when USA workplace death rate is six times higher than the UK!

No-one supports pointless bureaucracy or rules for their own sake.  But much of the ‘red tape’ Cameron is slashing and trashing is not imposed by mindless bureaucrats but carefully thought out, devised, evaluated and agreed by the HSE with industry and unions, to protect not only workers but the public and the environment.  Sending out signal that employers will not be liable for the abuse of workers by customers, will not make them protect

“Cameron prefers to concoct policy in the saloon bar with his corporate cronies on the back of beer mats.  Cameron’s populist lie about health and safety being a ‘burden on business’, ‘an albatross/millstone round neck of business’ and vowing to ‘kill off health and safety culture’ gets short shrift from those who know the truth.  Families of people killed, injured and made sick to death by employers, know that existing rules and enforcement are far too weak, say:

“No-one we love died due to too much regulation and enforcement but due to far too little.  Deregulation and slashing enforcement won’t make workers safer, or protect ordinary people, it’s designed to let corporations and business off the hook.  Don’t be fooled and let regulations go, it’s your choice ‘Red Tape or more bloody bandages’!” (2)  Said Louise Taggart, Families Against Corporate Killers  (FACK) Spokesperson (3)

“Cameron at the behest of his corporate mates has enrolled us in a race to the bottom, to compete with countries with appalling health and safety records such as Bangladesh.  Last year’s garment factory fires and building collapse clearly showed the world that a lack of health and safety  regulation and enforcement brings death and destruction.  Amongst the government’s crazy deregulations , exempting the self-employed, making more exemptions for SMEs, reducing the protections for young people in training placements, and banning preventative inspections in falsely called ‘low risk’ workplaces , are creating two/three tier workforce with so many holes in the once universal health and safety net. It will allow the very many unscrupulous employers to get away with injurying and making ill, the most vulnerable workers. And we will all pay the cost in the end.

“Failure to manage workplace safety and health costs the UK economy between £20 and 40 billion a year (3).  All the evidence from across the world shows that good regulation and strict enforcement lead to economically more successful countries; more innovation that serves ordinary people, saves lives, saves money for businesses, improves health, and builds the economy.  Cameron’s strategy is to serve the interest of the rich and powerful against those of workers based on fairy tales such as the Emperor’s new clothes.  Some of us can see the nakedness of this strategy and the deadly dangers of such a stupid race to the bottom, but others are still seeing invisible posh clothes.

For more information contact Hilda Palmer, Acting Chair of UK National Hazards Campaign:
Tel: 0161 636 7 557 ,  Louise Taggart, Families Against Corporate Killers  Tel : 0781 278 2534

Notes to editors

1.       Hazards Magazine  ‘Business  says Deregulate: the government will obey’http://www.hazards.org/votetodie/deregulate.htm

2   It’s your choice: ‘ Red Tape or more bloody bandages’http://www.hazards.org/images/h123posterlarge.jpg
Hazards blueprint for saner Health and Safety Executivehttp://www.hazards.org/votetodie/citizensane
Plus interview with Rory O’Neil, Hazards Magazine Editor,  by Health and Safety Bulletin:
http://www.healthandsafetyatwork.com/hsw/hsb/citizen-sane-and-hse

3.       Families Aganst Corporate  Killers  set up in 2006 by families of people killed by employers negligence  http://www.fack.org.uk  Founder Members of FACK:
Dawn and Paul Adams – son Samuel Adams aged 6 killed at Trafford Centre, 10th October 1998
Linzi Herbertson -husband Andrew Herbertson 29, killed at work in January 1998
Mike and Lynne Hutin – son Andrew Hutin 20, killed at work on 8th Nov 2001
Mick & Bet Murphy – son Lewis Murphy 18, killed at work on 21st February 2004
Louise Taggart – brother Michael Adamson 26, killed at work on 4th August 2005
Linda Whelan – son Craig Whelan 23, (and Paul Wakefield) killed at work on 23rd May 2004
Dorothy & Douglas Wright – son Mark Wright 37, killed at work on 13th April 2005

4.       Good health and safety is not a ‘burden on business’ it’s a burden on us!
The HSE records the costs of poor health and safety i.e. deaths, injuries and illnesses (over 70% caused by poor management according to the HSE) as £13.8 billion per year at 2010/11 prices. But this does not include the long latency illnesses like cancers.  Each incident fatality costs £1.5 million and each occupational cancer costs over £2.5 million (DEFRA costing). So, even taking HSE’s gross under-estimate of 8,000 work cancer deaths per year would add £20 billion to this total making it nearer £40 billion per year.   Taking Hazards figures of  18,000  occupational cancer deaths p.a.  would make it nearer £60 billion.  Of this cost, according to the HSE: individuals and families harmed pay 57%, the state – us, tax payers, the public purse! – pays 22%, and employers, whose criminal negligence caused the harm, pay only 21% HSE Annual Statistics Report 2012/13: http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/overall/hssh1213.pdf

Hazards Campaign statement on the Government response to ‘Health at work- an independent review of sickness absence’

Hazards Campaign statement on the Government response to
‘Health at work- an independent review of sickness absence’

The government’s response (http://dwp.gov.uk/docs/health-at-work-gov-response.pdf), like the Black/Frost report itself, is based on false notions of ‘sick note culture’, a punitive ‘all work is good for you and if you are sick, work will make you better’ approach.  There is no evidence to support this, much research shows that ‘presenteeism’ costs more than ‘absenteeism’, and workers suffering from bugs have recently been warned by the NHS Alliance not to spread colds and ‘flu by going to work!

The government response completely fails to acknowledge that work can and does make over a million workers sick each year, and that far more effort needs to be put into preventing this in order to reduce sickness absence, and also to provide new occupational health therapies and rehabilitation accessible via GPs, so that workers are helped to recover fully before returning to work.

The government response will do nothing at all to prevent workers from becoming ill, or deal with presenteeism, or to ensure that sick workers actually get any early rehabilitation, only offering the insecurity and fear of assessment by a private company whose aim and profit depend on forcing sick workers back to work as quickly as possible.  It is also marketising workers’ sickness so it can be sold to private sector companies to profit from, as for example ATOS profits from the widely criticised operation of the Employment and Support Allowance assessments.

Setting up ‘a state funded health and work assessment and advisory service to make occupational health advice available to employers and employees’ sounds good but it appears to be a call centre based system, with sign posting and advice, but no detail of how it will be run and managed, of any occupational medical input or advocacy for workers, nor does it include development of any new rehabilitation and therapies essential for workers’ recovery.  Referral of workers for independent assessment after 4 weeks sick leave risks increasing the stress and insecurity of already sick people.  The idea that 4 weeks off sick is ‘long term’ is ridiculous as many workers suffering work-related stress or musculo-skeletal disorders only go off sick when they are absolutely unable to carry on, and in 4 weeks they will barely have had time to recover from the acute phase of their illness, let alone be fit to return to work, or even to face assessment.  By-passing the workers’ own GP, risks repeating all the errors of the ATOS WCA assessments for ESA, risk conflicts, and may breach patient confidentiality.  It is also cruel, as GPs are often the only protection sick and injured workers have from unhealthy work, punitive sickness absence management and the threat of job loss.

There are some areas where the government has backed away from the wilder aspects of the Black/Frost recommendations.  Such as deciding not to reconsider the ban on pre-employment health questionnaires.  But the proposal to remove the requirement to keep sick pay records is a step backwards as employers cannot manage sickness absence without record keeping (Chapter 3 paras 20-23).  But there is no proposal for tax relief for GPs and employers to provide good occupational health diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation to workers.  80% of large employers provide occupational health services, but only 10% of small employers do, and the Hazards Campaign fears many employers will now use the proposed state funded service as a substitute for proper occupational health care undermining any current good practice, in a race to the bottom.

The Hazards Campaign deplores the  recommendation to publish tribunal award information to show employers that they are lower than they think as it is encourages employers to break the law by sacking workers who are off sick  (Chapter 3 paras 32-34).

For more information contact the Hazards Campaign 0161 636 7557

Hilda Palmer
Hazards Campaign Secretariat

c/o Greater Manchester Hazards Centre
Windrush Millennium Centre
70 Alexandra Road
Manchester M16 7WD