Tag Archives: coronavirus

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

Deadly failures have placed millions of workers at unnecessary coronavirus exposure risk

Deadly failures have placed millions of workers at unnecessary coronavirus exposure risk 
[Hazards Cmapaign, News release, 7 April 2020]

A fatal combination of missed opportunities, ignored warning signs and a failure to stop non-essential work have made the Covid-19 a bigger and more deadly epidemic in the UK, a new analysis prepared for the Hazards Campaign by top public health academic Professor Andrew Watterson of Stirling University  has revealed.  The government’s serial failures are summarised in an infographic prepared by Hazards Magazine.

Calling for an end to non-essential work, Hazards Campaign spokesperson Janet Newsham said:

“For all our sake, stop this madness.”

For all our sake, stop this madness.  We have workers side-by-side building luxury hotels when almost every hotel in the land is shutdown and in crisis, and building power stations that won’t go on line for years. How can these jobs have been considered ‘essential’?”

She added: “To control the spread of this virus we need a Government to make rational decisions and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to enforce safety or stop the work.   

“We are weeks into the pandemic and frontline staff are dying from a negligent Government who are failing to provide basic PPE”

“We are weeks into the pandemic and frontline staff are dying from a negligent Government who are failing to provide basic PPE never mind a standard of PPE that would keep all health and care workers and all essential workers safe.   

“We need a precautionary approach to this new risk and one that provides workers with the best chance of avoiding being infected by it.  It needs to be a robust approach using the best possible research and international evidence available. 

“Continually over the last few weeks, Government officials, have said that testing is coming.  And weeks before, international experts declared that the only way to win the battle against the virus spread was to test and track.  Only this will save the lives of both the front-line workers and the rest of society.  We have to attack the spread of the virus and test, track and quarantine, is the only way proven way to achieve this.  There shouldn’t need to be a debate about who is going to receive treatment or not, we should have in place a health care system alongside a strategy that protects our most vulnerable.   

“The Hazards Campaign calls on the HSE to step up and enforce the legal duty on employers to ensure workers health and safety.”

“The Hazards Campaign calls on the HSE to step up and enforce the legal duty on employers to ensure workers health and safety.  All workers including vulnerable zero hours, the bogus self- employed need reassurance and access to information and support in the workplace.  This means they need a health and safety enforcer to listen to their concerns, raise their issues and challenge negligent employers.  We need them to close down employers who are putting people’s lives at risk. 

“Everyone needs to stand together in the fight to protect workers”

“Everyone needs to stand together in the fight to protect workers, not simply because it’s the right thing to do but because it affects us all. Workers health is public health.  When companies subject workers to dangerous conditions and cheat them out of wages, it’s taxpayers who foot the bill.  The worst offenders will only change their behaviour when the cost of failing to protect workers outweighs the benefits. If we truly want to show our essential workers how much we appreciate their contributions, we need to do more than just applaud them. We must have the courage to stand and support them, using every resource we have. It will be for the good of public health too.

“We echo the statement put out by the STUC condemning the UKs Government approach on social distancing and welcoming the new Scottish Government guidance.  All risks in the workplace must be controlled and the very least employers should do to protect all workers is to provide the highest level of PPE available in these circumstances. (http://www.stuc.org.uk/media-centre/news/1432/scottish-government-guidance-on-social-distancing).

“We support the Statement by the Society of Occupational Medicine!  (https://www.som.org.uk/work-related-fatalities-due-covid-19-exposure-not-given) that the UK should have aimed for a target of zero work-related fatalities in this pandemic within the NHS, essential services and UK business.  Finally, there has been a failure by the HSE to enforce Health and Safety Law and ensure workers are protected from all the risks in the workplace.  This must change!”

A Hazards Campaign meeting yesterday agreed the following statement .

Links

COVID 19 in the UK and occupational health and safety – predictable but not inevitable failures: what can we do now? [updated]

INFOGRAPHIC COVID-19: The coronavirus lessons the UK government chose to ignore

STUC welcomes Scottish Government Guidance on social distancing and condemns UK Government’s approach

Work related fatalities due to COVID-19 exposure is not a given

Further information

Janet Newsham
Chair of Hazards Campaign
Tel: 07734 317 158
Email: janet@gmhazards.org.uk

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